HYDERABAD: Say the word ‘biryani’ and Hyderabadis will be all ears, with their mouths watering and them debating among themselves endlessly on who serves the best biryani in town.
While the variety is often limited to chicken, mutton or vegetarian, there are myriad versions of the dish, each made using a completely different and painstaking method. But unable to have this mouth-watering dish at restaurants during the recent lockdown, people’s cravings went through the roof and they had to find a jugaad.
They went online, just like the rest of the world. They DMed their favourite chefs and vloggers, requesting them to post videos on how to make biryani. Krishna Chaitanya, an IT professional, and his friend Vishnu came up with a food channel on YouTube called Food Monks in 2019. They are well known for their vlogs on food and restaurant reviews. “During the pandemic, the most requested recipe on our channel was that of biryani. People love this aromatic dish and would do anything to have it. During the lockdown, we also saw a sudden jump in subscribers,” says Krishna.
According to him, people want to go to a restaurant which follows the Covid protocol and is hygienic. For this, they watch videos reviewing the hygiene standards of restaurants and the safety norms being followed by the food and beverage industry. “The irony is that they are also watching street food videos. We at Food Monks try to promote local food joints and vendors that are hygienic and are tasty at the same time. We want to profile places where the food is unique and is pocket-friendly,” he says.
Sanjay Thumma, a popular chef from the city who is also known as Vah-Chef, ‘Washer’, Thummer and Thumsy, says his subscribers wanted to see him cook at his home with his spouse. He tried to make his videos as entertaining as possible and received an overwhelming response. “We activated our regional language, Telugu. I posted a video of me cooking chicken biryani and it crossed around 15 million views on YouTube. Home cooking is what viewers loved.
People who didn’t know to cook also tuned in for the entertainment. The idea behind my videos was to remind them that even though we are missing a lot during the pandemic, we can still have our own little party at home. We focused on home cooking recipes which people can execute easily, my time on my farm growing vegetables and the importance of living a healthy life by using organic ingredients,” says the chef.