Iss mein dum hai
A Delhi-based delivery joint debuts in the city to serve freshly-made clay pot biryani and Mughlai eats, and our taste buds are in a tangle
It is often said that the biggest challenge in baking, vis-à-vis cooking, is that one can’t improvise after a certain point. It all comes down to precision really, and applies to dishes like biryani as well. Influenced by several culinary traditions and available in myriad avatars across the length and breadth of the country, the rice dish is undoubtedly one of India’s most loved food items.
And so it’s doubly good news that Biryani By Kilo (or BBK, as Delhiites call it), a Delhi-based delivery joint, has finally arrived in Mumbai, carrying a lot of promise. Firstly, due to the shared culinary history of the region, the North is typically associated with better Mughlai and Awadhi food. And secondly, BBK serves its freshly made biryani, korma and other gravies straight out of the clay pot. This is not only the authentic way of doing things, but also adds a bit of a wow factor. Who wouldn’t prefer a clay pot over a plastic container, right?
If you call on the customer care number, or check their pages on a food delivery app, you’ll find that the franchise requests an hour’s notice. This is because they make the food fresh, but it’s hard to believe that it’s possible to prepare the complicated dish in 90 minutes, so it seems more likely that each of the components — rice, meat, potato, eggs — are kept ready, and the assimilated version goes over the flame once an order is placed.
Chicken korma and rumali roti
Be that as it may, the menu appears suitably representative of the entire country, with most versions of the dish on offer. The Kolkata-style chicken biryani (Rs 725) is particularly tempting, because even though Bengalis rave about it with nausea-inducing energy, the rest of the country is yet to wrap its head around the whole aloo hullabaloo. From the gravies section, the chicken korma (Rs 400) looks appealing, and rumali roti (Rs 55 per piece) is a must with a dish like that.
The food is ready — in inviting earthen pots — as promised, within an hour, and small dabbas holding salan and raita accompany it. One needs to crack open the flour sealing that keeps the lid attached to the pot, before digging in. But once you’ve made it through the tricky process, a delicious aroma wafts through. The top layer of the biryani is adorned with a serving of berista or caramelised onions, and the absence of tomato and coriander in the garnish indicates authenticity. A taste of it proves to be disheartening, though, since the berista is a bit too sweet (perhaps from the use of sugar), unlike a perfectly smoky and suitably burnt version. But the rice is supple and the muted use of garam masala, which exudes an enticing redolence, is bang on. The potato is over-boiled, though it tastes good, and the chicken is tender, if not falling-off-the-bones soft. The only real let-down, however, reveals itself at the bottom of the pot. It’s what a khansama would describe as tar ki biryani — the bottom-most layer, where the residue from the masala and the meat combine with the ghee to give you a rich and flavourful part of the dish. Here, it has charred, perhaps from the pot being exposed to a high, direct flame — a golden rule while putting your biryani on dum is to ensure a low fire. But the overall dish is
The rumali rotis are just plain overpriced, while the korma is slightly oilier than it should be and, for some reason, has a sweetness reminiscent of the rezala available across West Bengal — a light brown curry with a punch of garam masala and a runny shorba on top. Though satiating, it lacks the depth of a dense korma.
All in all, what comes through is that the cooks at BBK have an understanding of Mughal food, a complicated cuisine that is often made to look easy, thanks to its omnipresence.
At: Biryani By Kilo, Shriram Building, Chembur East (also at Vikhroli and Mahkali).
Time: 10 am to 10.30 pm
Biryani By Kilo didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
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