I have spent ten years searching for good biriyani (Indian pulao with meat) at Bombay.
A Calcuttan’s definition of ‘good’ biriyani is the Lucknowi version which we get in Calcutta – dry (no gravy unlike in the Bombay variety), each grain of rice should be separate and the spices should be subtle and fragrant rather than over powering.
I finally came across it yesterday when I ordered from Kakori House at Bandra. I got the lead from my friend Imraan who sent me the number when he heard about my blog and my interest in food. The biriyani was AMAZING. The mutton was succulent, there was no gravy, and the rice was long grained and separate - very well flavoured. If I knew Imraan’s address I would have run across and given him a bear hug.
The only thing was that it didn’t have potatoes. However, I recently read in Chitrita Banerjee’s Eating India, that the Lucknowi nawabs added potatoes only after the British exiled them to Calcutta and when money was scarce. So the Lucknowi version was sans potato.
The biriyani was the tip of the iceberg. We ordered the kakori kebabs. I had kakori bkababs earlier at ITC’s Dum Pukht and loved them. These kebabs are so soft that you can literally suck on them as they melt in your mouth. In fact they are so delicate that they often break while serving. History goes that they were created by a Lucknowi chef for a Nawab who loved to eat but had a digestion problem.
I was a bit wary while ordering kakori kebabs though as I had had bad experiences (e.g. Moti Mahal and Shatranj Napoli at Bandra) when I had ordered outside the confines of the 5 star ITC restaurants. The kakori at Kakori House were, however, the real Mc Coy. The wife and I kept moaning in pleasure with each mouthful.
We also ordered the poor man’s Kakori, galauti kebabs. These are supposed to be as soft as kakori but are shaped into little balls which are easier to fry than the cylindrical kakoris. The galautis too were outstanding. Extremely soft. I would take a bite and then keep it in my mouth and enjoyed the sensuous play off the juices. At the risk of sounding like a barbarian I must say I preferred the galauti to the kakoris, but then it was like choosing between Ms Universe and Ms World!
The biggest shocker was the price. The mutton biriyani, the kakori (3 pieces) and the galauti (4 pieces) were all for 240 Rs. Which is amazing since you can only get the same quality at ITC hotels which are 5 star hotels with 5 star prices, or in the streets of Old Lucknow. And yes you, you would get the biriyani at Calcutta. But what about the airfares?
Kakori offers Lucknowi food and is a home delivery joint (09320090269) which delivers only at Bandra. They have outlets at Lucknow, Delhi and the Cricket Club of India, Bombay.