Nothing can beat the aroma of the exotic spices that waft from a plate of piping hot biryani! With rains finally descending on the national capital, what better way to enjoy the monsoon, by digging into a plateful of this aromatic delicacy. In a 15-day festival called Dawat-E-Biryani, at Edesia – the multi-cuisine restaurant at Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla – diners can relish the rice dish in its different avatars from different parts of India.
Complementing the bold flavours of the biryanis are delicious salans and crunchy papads. The gastronomic affair includes sumptuous, handcrafted vegetarian and non-vegetarian selections. Like Awadhi Khurchan Murgh Biryani with Chicken Korma, where the meat and spices are cooked in fragrant jhol, separately from rice, flavoured with Lucknowi spices and saffron.
Then layered in a deep-bottomed handi, covered, sealed with dough and cooked to perfection. The addition of kewra water lends a final touch of royalty. There’s Hyderabadi Gosht Biryani with Mutton Yakhani that originated in the kitchens of the Nizam. Sumit Sinha, Director of Food & Beverage at the hotel, elaborates further. “The royal cooks used to marinate the meat overnight with spices and then soaked the meat in yoghurt before layering it with the long-grain Basmati rice.
Nawabi Sea Food (Prawn) Biryani with Mirch Ka Salan has heavily used green chilies, fennel and coriander. The cooking process is similar to Lucknowi Biryani where half-cooked meat is layered with rice in a sealed handi and slow-cooked.” Biryani, he says, originated in the Middle-East from where it entered India via the Sindh province. “This recipe, which originally had rice and marinated meat, took in regional influences as it gradually travelled to various parts of the country.
This includes using local rice variants, generous use of dry fruits or local spices or replacement of quintessential chicken with fish, prawn or local vegetables.” He adds how the recipe adopted local cooking styles and ways of serving. “We also have milder and sweeter versions like Doodh ki Biryani and Mutanjan Biryani akin to Zarda Pulao. With Dawat-E-Biryani at Edesia, we have tried to keep the traditional flavours of biryani from the regions of Hyderabad, Lucknow, Rajasthan and Mangalore.”
The food festival will dish out some relatively unknown variants. Like the Marwadi Kabuli Biryani with Suran ka Salan, a royal dish presented in alternate layers of rice and vegetables gravy cooked in yoghurt with toppings of fried bread crumbs, crunchy cashews, raisins and mild spices. It is a vegetarian adaptation of a similar non vegetarian dish owing its origin to Kabul, Afghanistan, that uses considerable nuts and dry fruits.
Representing the desert region, there’s Rajasthani Makai Biryani with Baigan ka salan. An innovative twist to the regular biryani is the generous use of corn and the state’s popular spices. The Hyderabadi Teen Khumbi Biryani with Baigan Ka salan has button mushroom, shiitake and black fungus marinated in bare minimum spices and cooked with rice on dum.