In 2019, Kolkata ordered 39 lakh mutton biryani and 25 lakh chicken biryani on food apps, making it the fifth Indian city to place the maximum orders for biryani after Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. While the City of Joy’s love affair with this dish is much talked about, the latest data prompted us to take a relook at the goodness of our very own Kolkata biryani along with its all-new avatars. Prepared with aromatic rice, tender meat and select masalas, the Kolkata biryani has been cheering up foodies for more than a century now. And what sets it apart from its Hyderabadi or Awadhi counterparts is the aloo, which lends the dish a distinct flavour.
Popular across age groups
Among other fast food items, biryani is pocket-friendly, feel city students. Ayush Banerjee, a student of Jadavpur University, says, “It’s not possible for students like us to order costly delicacies from posh restaurants. I am a regular customer at a small biryani joint near my university. Though the quality is not great, it serves decent biryani for a really affordable price.” Sambit Banik, the chef and owner of a restaurant on Sarat Bose Road, said, “We serve experimental Mughlai cuisine. We sell around 400 plates of mutton biryani on any given day and 250 plates of chicken biryani daily. Our most ordered dish is the classic Lucknowi dum style, followed by our special Hyderabadi sofiana biryani made with almond milk and aromatic spices.”
Why Kolkatans root for their favourite biryani
The potato in the biryani was introduced by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah when he came to Kolkata, and since he didn’t have enough funds to feed his entourage, the meat in the biryani was replaced with the tuber. Manzilat Fatima, the great-great-granddaughter of the Nawab tells us that the only difference between the Awadhi biryani and Kolkata biryani is that the latter has an aloo in it. “Bengalis choose biryani over any other food perhaps because it’s a rice-based preparation, has a piece of potato, which they love so much. I have gone offline because I couldn’t handle the demand online. I’m cooking 40-50 plates of biryani a day for private orders and my diners combined,” she said.
A comfort food
Biryani has now transformed from a sit-down meal to a fast food item. It is the most common ‘first order’ by any new user across different food delivery platforms. Vinay Arorah, owner of a restaurant on Rajdanga Main Road that specialises in handi biryani, informed us that he gets more than 200 online orders for biryani a day. “The number increases by 60-70% during festivals. It’s a complete meal with its share of carbohydrate and protein. Even during dinner outings with family or friends, we have noticed that the first choice is always biryani.”
For Alekhya Chakraborty, an IT professional, biryani is a comfort food. She said, “Thanks to online food ordering platforms, we can order different versions — be it Hyderabadi, classic Kolkata style or Awadhi biryani — as and when we feel like.”
Source: Times of India