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Food ahead


A host of food festivals in the hotels point to a new, adventurous culinary track the citywallas are taking. A field day for foodies!


ONE WOULD think the best way to see places is to hit the road. What else? A gastronomic journey differs vastly from an endless dusty grey ribbon but could be just as informative seasoned with a liberal pinch of history. At the biriyani festival at Regency Restaurant, Hotel Abad Plaza one finds the Mughals, the Nawabs and the Takurs in easy company, the simple reason being that they have all influenced the cooking styles of one biriyani or another. There are no hard and fast rules about the place of commencement on a biryani route. So let us start in the middle where the North and the South meet and from whence one of the finest of all Biryianis evolved: The Nawabi style from Hyderabad. The Corporate Chef of Abad Group of Hotels Gopu G says, "Nawabi denotes wealth and prosperity. The echoes of royal antecedents are clearly evident in its rich flavour. The ingredients in this biriyani are a good mixture of the North and South. The tamarind pulp, saffron, curry leaves and cashewnut paste are used to enhance the flavours." Murg Navarathan is good but the Gosht Habeeb of another court is far more pleasing both visually and appetisingly. So we leap to the other royal court: The Mughals. In the Mughalai biriyani, mutton is usually the main ingredient and here the basmati rice is cooked in diluted milk and spices. The rice completely absorbs the spices and milk to form a pulao. While tamarind is a no-no powdered badam is the prominent thickening paste. The Gosht Habeeb has crispy mutton chops placed atop the pulao. The delicate milk flavoured rice melts in the mouth with the crunchy bite of the well-cooked mutton. While the Passi (Persian) is a delectable fish biryani. As you cut through the pale fish, the curry leaves and spices hiding within surprise you and the gently flavoured rice with aromatic spices and hung curd differs from the biriyanis of the south. Says Chef Gopu, "In the Persian style no hot spices are used excepting for a few green chillies. And it is served with hung curd and egg plant paste."

Now if you move down south to Chettinad the contrast will shock your palate. The Chettinad biriyani is dark, almost the colour and flavour of sambar. Paste of mustard, cumin, black pepper, red chilly is added with tamarind pulp and asafoetida. The Chef points out, "only in Tamil Nadu do they temper their biriyanis with mustard seeds. And this is served with chilly paste in peanut oil." Nothing can get spicier. The Kerala style biriyani as everyone would have guessed cannot do without its precious coconut oil. Even though ghee is used for the basic cooking the biriyani is finally tempered with coconut oil and coconut flakes. The Chemmeen Pollichattu and the Coconut biriyani are two excellent varieties of the Kerala style. Viva la coconut! Quickly traversing back to the North one finds the Takur Jinka biriyani an interesting variation. The biriyani of the landlords does not really require a plate for the dum biriyani is stuffed between two chappatis and tawa fried. This is served with sun dried prawn chutney. Finally you come home to relax with the desserts and herbal tea. This festival is a far cry from the regular biriyanis that we find in the city. The festival is on till Sunday .


Chemmeen pollicha biriyani


(Serves eight)

Prawns-1 kg
Coconut chips-50 ml
Garlic-1 teaspoon
Ginger-1 teaspoon
Green Chilli-6
Tomato -1
Mango paste -1 teaspoon
Small Onions-50 gm
Curry leaves-2 sprigs
Mustard seeds-5 gm
Chilly powder-15 gm
Turmeric -5 gm
Lime Juice-1 teaspoon
Coconut milk-100 ml
Cocom-5 gm (soaked in hot water)
Salt-a pinch


Rice -750 gm
Onion -100 gm
Whole Spices-5 gm
Mint leaves-5 gm
Coriander leaves-5 gm
Milk-100 ml
Ghee-20 ml
Dry grapes-5 gm
Cashew nuts-50 gm
Salt-To taste


Heat coconut oil - add mustard seed, fenugreek, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, green chilli, sliced small onions and coconut chips. sauté until light brown in colour. Add masalas, chilli powder and turmeric powder. Sauté on a slow fire until the masala is cooked. Add chopped tomatoes and cocom, add little mango paste. Further sauté and add the cleaned prawns, stir slowly, pour the coconut milk, add seasoning. Boil until it becomes dry.

Rice Preparation

Rice boiled with all spices, dry grape, cashew nut, mint leaves, coriander leaves, milk, little ghee and salt. (Rice 3/4 boiled and strain.) In a thick-bottomed hundi, add prawn masala, place the rice above the masala, pour little ghee and dhum cook for 30 minutes. Remove the lid, mix well and wrap 300 gms of the rice and prawn mixture in plantain leaves. Tava grill for 5 minutes on both sides. Accompaniments : Raitha and pickles


(Corporate Chef Abad Group of Hotels)

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