HYDERABAD: Talking about Biryani might not be as attractive as eating it, but knowing about the origins of the dish, especially from three passionate food bloggers who bring chunks of history from different parts of the country, has its own charm. The event was held at Peerless Inn in Gachibowli. Sabyasachi Ray Chaudhuri, who blogs at foodaholix.com, opened the session by saying that though Islamic influence might have brought meat and rice dishes to India, Biryani was developed in India.
“In fact”, he pointed out, “Renowned culinary historian KT Achaya had mentioned a dish called Mamsabhutadana in one of his books, which is a rice and venison preparation that Ram, Sita and Lakshmana allegedly used to eat while in exile.” Indrajit Lahiri, food show host and blogger (mohamushkil. wordpress.com) gave the audience insights into the Kolkata Biryani, and spoke about how the humble potato was introduced into the dish out of economic constraints, and not some culinary innovation.
After the last Nawab of Awadh, Wajed Ali Shah, was exiled to Kolkata by the British, his pension was not enough to cover his grand lifestyle. In order to reduce the cost of Biryani which would be prepared to feed his staff, he started using potato as an ingredient, which was then a relatively cheap exotic vegetable. Taher Syed from Hyderabad, who blogs at palatejournals. com, spoke about the different kinds of Hyderabadi Biryani like Kacche Gosht ki Biryani, Pakke Gosht ki Biryani, Kalyani Biryani etc.
He revealed an interesting story about how Mirch ka Salan and Raita started being served with Biryani during the British era to adjust the spice levels. If a British officer found the dish very spicy, he would take the help of the Raita made from curd to douse his flaming taste buds. In the same way, if an Indian found the spice level lower than what he liked, he could take a helping of the hot Mirch Ka Salan to take the spice game up a notch!