KOCHI: India offers so much on its culinary platter but one dish most Indians unanimously love indulging in is the mouth-watering biriyani. This versatile dish may have varied flavours and regional techniques of preparation that makes it a trademark of the region.
Like many successful businesses, 'Azad' too had a humble beginning. Famous for its mouth-watering biriyanis, it was founded by Meeran Pillai Pareed Kunju as a small hotel at Vallakadavu in Thiruvananthapuram. It was in the early 1940s that 'Azad Pukka Travancore Biriyani' was born. In 1947, Azad opened at Overbridge, Trivandrum, in Swami's building. So popular was the yarn of taste spun by the modest hotel that the south gate of the Kerala Government Secretariat came to be known as the Azad Gate and it still goes by the same name.
Offering the same spread of delicacies, Azad has now started a chain in the Mall of Travancore known as 'Azad Star'. Managed by the Azad brothers- Mahin, Wazim and Ozman, this new brand provides the finest dining experience. “The recipe followed is almost same as followed 78 years back. Only minor changes have been made to give the recipe a modern touch,” said Wasim Azad, the restaurateur. Another specialty about the restaurant is the chefs here who have more than 40 years of experience.
“More than the rich spread of dishes, the effort of our chefs to maintain the traditional flavours, is the high point of our restaurant. We are trying to bring back the recipes which were popular in the 1940s,” he added.
The signature dish at Azad Star is the 'Mutton Mandhi Biryani' made with a mix of traditional spices added to it. Another popular dish is 'Fish Mancholi', again incorporating traditional spices. Other much in demand dishes which are new additions to the menu is 'Beetroot chicken', a chicken preparation topped with thick beetroot gravy and 'Kanthari Chicken' made with crushed chillies.
Mahin Azad, the co-owner says, "There are many who don't know there exists a Travancore cuisine. We want to introduce people to it.”
The menu also includes mouth-watering desserts like skyscraper and Cheesecake with Blueberry topping. Azad restaurant also owns Chai Chai, a snack and tea corner.