Culinary post from India: Battle of the Biryanis

The top three destinations for biryani are:

1. Hyderabad

2. Tamil Nadu

3. Kerala

(Hope my paternal relatives don’t kill me.)

In chronological order

Babu Uncle
Trivandrum, Kerala: The first time. Good, simple biryani at Babu Uncle’s house, though not as flavourful as the subsequent ones.

Tony

Calicut, Kerala: The biryani at Tony Joseph’s house had great balance. Short grain rice.

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Bombay Hotel, Calicut: Rich, filled with ghee, decadent. Short grain rice. If you need to line your stomach before a night out, this is the one.

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Bombay Hotel, Calicut: Rich, filled with ghee, decadent. Short grain rice. If you need to line your stomach before a night out, this is the one.

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Bombay Hotel, Calicut: Condiments are important, and differ dramatically between cities. In Kerala, Mint, yoghurt, pickle are essential.

Bekal

Bekal, Kerala: A wonderfully aromatic, light biryani at a small roadside stall near the Bekal fort. First time I had such strong, sweet spices–cloves, cinammon, star anise.

Chettinad

Chettinad restaurant, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu: When we ate this, Kirit Kiran and I agreed that it beats the Kerala ones. Mostly because it’s just so yummy, you really feel like licking your fingers. If one wants to get technical, probably the most umami of any of the biryanis I tried. Longer grain rice than in Kerala.

Shabad

Hotel Rumaan, Charminar, Hyderabad: Every day, this 24-hr place sells between “10,000 and 20,000” plates. Or, an average of 625 per hour. The best so far. Light and fluffy. Amazing aromas. And the mutton inside melts in your mouth. Extremely long rice grains–opposite of Kerala biryani. I think I prefer the short grain rice, but the flavour of this one. Can’t have it all…

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Paradise Hotel, Hyderabad: The traditional favourite; some say it’s still good, others say decline has set in. I think it’s the second best of the trip, after the Hotel Rumaan one.

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Paradise Hotel, Hyderabad: The traditional favourite; some say it’s still good, others say decline has set in. I think it’s the second best of the trip, after the Hotel Rumaan one.

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Paradise Hotel, Hyderabad: The gravy of the right–green chillies and coconut, according to my server–is the best biryani accompaniment I’ve had. Strong, earthy flavours.

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If you enjoyed this, do check out Culinary post from China: Sichuan

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