CHENNAI: On Saturday, biriyani is going to be on plenty of people’s minds. Let’s face it, Eid isn’t Eid if it doesn’t involve ‘Ramzan Biriyani’. To ensure that all these hungry stomachs have their fill of the aromatic mutton-filled rice dish, biriyani bigwigs across the city have begun prepping to supply almost twice their normal load.
Though there isn’t a specific plan to start earlier than their usual in-time of 5.30 am, Y Aasife Ahmed of Aasife Biriyani admits that it’s going to be a marathon day for the cooks at his ‘factory’ in Guindy.
“It’s like a car being assembled on an assembly line. There’s one team cutting vegetables, while another is setting the andas (large cooking vessels), another washing the rice and meat and another setting the wood fires. The only difference for Ramzan is that we will be making a lot more and doing it a lot longer than usual,” he says with a laugh. Where they put in about 500 kgs of basmati rice on a regular day, they’ll be making in excess of two tonnes of it for Eid. “That’s about 10-11 tonnes of biriyani that we’ll be selling,” he adds, explaining the math of rice expansion.
They’re not alone. Chains like Ammi’s Biriyani and Chennai Rawther Thalappakattu have also said that they are increasing production by 1.5 times to cater to the demand on Eid.
“The last three to four years, we have found that families are not up to setting wood fires and making biriyani at home anymore. They prefer to buy five-10 kg packs for consumption and for distribution and devote their energy towards making Islamic sweets instead,” said Abdul Rahim of Mehal Biriyani, a popular outlet in Ayanavaram.
One of the reasons for this increased biriyani consumption is that people across religions are making it a habit to buy biriyani on Eid. “You’d be surprised that people from all religions come and buy the 1kg and five-kg packs for their families. That is why we tend to run out quickly,” said Sultan, store manager, Thalappakattu Biriyani, “Last year we had to call the kitchen for a refill and they didn’t have any.”
The only issue plaguing these biriyani majors is the staff crunch they’ll face — because most of their employees will want to attend prayers on Saturday. Curiously, Aasife isn’t worried about it in the least.
“You won’t believe it, of all the cooks, who have been with me for years, not one is a Muslim,” he says and adds, “But if we’re short of hands, I’ll roll up my sleeves and begin cooking myself!”