B  I  R  I  Y  A  N  I
can you smell it.. :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ya Mohideen, Pallavaram - ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Category: B

Let me start with a small preface.
It was a warm summer evening in the year 2003. I was on the way back from my my college (which is in Sriperumbudur). Enroute is Porur, where I got down to switch buses, I happen to visit a certain 'Arcot Biriyani center'. That day i had my 1st plate of biriyani in that place, without knowing that i am going to be coming back to that place again and again and again for the next 9 years!
It kept happening over and again as I was spellbound on the taste of the biriyani from that place, until the government one fine day decided that 'it was long enough' as they tore down all the shops in that row to widen the road. Ever since, I am in search for a similar, if not better taste. Now coming back to the current day..

YA MOHIDEEN, Pallavaram:
And NO, it is not a German establishment, although the name may sound like it!

I have been hearing many people raving about this place. Finally, I caught a break.
And I am going to say that this biriyani 'almost' reached the place where I have kept the above mentioned porur 'arcot biriyani'.

Among all my reviews in this blog, I have given maximum rating for this (so far) with 8★s. This beats Charminar (Triplicane) hands down in terms of atleast 3 parameters.

All the good reviews which you may read on the internet about this place are true. This is one yummy biriyani. Located deep inside pallavaram, this place is no different from any other classic 'bhai' biriyani center. Big dabaras, stand and eat, crowded swamping the small place (half way) round the clock etc.

Now to the biriyani: I did both dine-in (chicken) and take away (mutton). So this is a double review.

<<=== This is what the Chicken biriyani looks.
And imagine digging into a piping hot plate of this.

As the aromatic steam rises above and enters and tickle the inner walls of your nostrils, without any further delay you take the biriyani and treat your mouth. You'll surely say.. HOT HOT HOT and Exquisite!

The rice was well boiled (neither stiff, nor too soft). moist enough and the chicken pieces were succulent and soft. I will rate this spicy, a little above average.
The flavours and texture were just about perfect.
The chicken pieces were big enough. Although i had only a 1/4 plate, i felt it was a generous portion (good enough to be called a 1/2). I got 2 big pieces which was surprising.

<<=== This is what the Mutton biriyani looks like.

I took away and had the mutton biriyani at home. I must say that these guys are too generous. it was a huge portion of biriyani with an overwhelming quantity of mutton pieces. if a standard plate of mutton biriyani has 3-4 pieces, this one had 6-7 in it!!!
So meat lovers who always look for more meat, those carnivorous sons and daughters of the land, you're in for a treat :). Personally I felt that it was an overkill. But nevertheless, the biriyani was fantastic. I imagined that a steaming hot plate would have been even better.

A little note on the condiments: the brinjal curry was just as good as any other place. I think it's easy to make. But the raita was a little disappointing and dry. little more curd in it would have made it an awesome side dish.

The shop is quite established. Kinda easy to find once you reach pallavaram. Bike or car can be parked nearby until the time you finish your meal or get the take out. It is kind of a big complex with 2 counters and two dining rooms (both stand-n-eat with no chairs or tables). They also have mutton soup and chicken pakodas. But think twice before spoiling your appetite with these extras.

The prices are a little above average, but the value proposition that you get over shadows it.

My recommendation would be that, eat it there itself. it make a huge difference. this is not like Salem RR or Thalapakatti. The hotter this stuff is, the tastier it is. I personally wouldn't prefer parcel / take away from here.
Also I must mention that they serve the biriyani on round banana leaf placed on an organic use-n-throw plate, which definitely gives extra points, in terms of hygiene and environmental friendliness!

My rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

How to reach there:If you are coming from Airport, Look for pallavaram signal and take the right. navigate through the crowded and commercial road. you will see a temple at the fag end of the road, just before that take the right. You will reach Ya Mohideen in 50 meters.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

ESAIT Biriyani, Tambaram - ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Category: B

2 branches located within a 1 km radius, clearly shows the high demand for this biriyani in this area.

Located a couple of kms off the GST road, this shop is one of the most happening food places in Tambaram. They have both chicken and mutton biriyani, and along with this, you can also order some chicken 65 if you like.

This biriyani has very good flavour and fills you up very easily. But on the down side, it is a little dry and that may put you off. And also, I felt this one had too much of removables (tomato, biriyani leaves etc) in it. This was quite unusual for a ambur style biriyani.. And also the meat to rice ratio wasn't quite satisfying. One would expect a little more meat to be there..

The biriyani is served along with brinjal curry and onion raitha (no surprise there)

The Menu - simple and straightforward!
Having visited this place more than a couple of times, I would say that the mutton biriyani is definitely better than the chicken.

As far as the prices are concerned, many might say it is nominal, but I would say it is a little on the higher side (refer menu) for the ambience, quantity etc.

Although it is a small place with limited seating, the place is quite buzzing, especially around peak lunch time and dinner time. and you keep in mind that they run out of mutton biriyani very quickly. Since this place is near tambaram, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pay a visit and take away a few packets if you are starting a road trip on GST.

The road is very wide and parking is not a concern at all. Although this is the case only with one of the 2 branched. The other one is located right under the flyover (mentioned below).

My rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

How to reach there: From tambaram main bus stand, go straight towards perungulatur (further down on GST) and take the first left. Take the flyover. once you get down the flyover, travel for 1 to 1.5 kms and you will find the shop on your left.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Karim Mess, Periamet - ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

Category: B

I had been hearing way too much about this place. So I just wanted to see what the fuss is all about.

Located in the congested Periamet area which is not only the leather hub of Chennai, but also one of the major biriyani hubs. With almost 20-25 biriyani shops in a 4 km radius, Periamet's most popular biriyani shop is Karim Mess (This claim was validated by a traffic police when I casually went and asked him for directions - must be true then right?!)

Now, having visited this place twice already, I do think it is kind of overrated!

The place has a counter area in the ground floor and a dining area in the 1st floor. Majority of the purchases are take aways. People often buy biriyani in tubs, buckets etc. The cost is very nominal, with a plate of mutton biriyani selling at 110 Rs. The chicken version is obviously lesser than that. They also have some mutton based side dishes, like mutton chukka (dry) for 70 Rs and mutton chops (gravy) for 70 Rs. For 180 Rs, one could have a complete satisfying meal at this meat paradise.

But why only 4 stars mate???

To start with, the biriyani as well as the side dish are not spicy enough. It was rather bland. The flavour does not hit you. If I go to such a hyped place, I would be expecting a mesmerizing taste and a flavour which should take full control of all my senses. But this biriyani just didn't do the magic for me. Also I felt it was dry.

But I must say that the meat to rice ratio in this place is much much more satisfying than many other usual places. maybe this is one of the reasons why this place is so popular. If a standard biriyani has 20% of meat in it, this biriyani has almost 35%.

When I had the mutton chukka, i felt like as if the meat was there for the sake of being there.

But nevertheless, this place must be visited at least once, just for the heck of it!

My rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

How to reach there: Take the road adjacent to rippon building, towards periamet, then take left at the first signal and then take the 2nd lane to your left. You can't park your car inside. Plan accordingly.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dindigul Thalapakatti Restaurant, Chennai - ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Category: D

No need for any introduction here. One of the fastest grown dindigul style restaurant franchises in Chennai. Well built brand image. The colour RED is now easily associated with this brand, along with coke, KFC etc (from a Chennai perspective).

Quite a lot of people used to call themselves "Thalapakattu Biriyani", "Thalapakatti biriyani" etc. This was the scene in chennai a few years back. But now this restaurant is easily distinguishable. Now "THALAPAKATTI" means only one chain and it is popular. And also with an excellent choice of celebrity to endorse the brand, they have ensured proper reach and have indeed struck gold. People now easily remember this biriyani as the one Sharath kumar eats. (Remember, this is one of the most apt and suitable choices, unlike the ones like where Namitha endorses TMT bars for construction etc).

Coming to the point..

The biriyani is strictly Dindigul style. Made with 'jeeraga samba' rice, small in length (1/3rd to 1/4th of that of a standard basmathi rice).

The biriyani is quite spicy. It is not too moist but not too dry either. One of the unique quality about all dindigul style biriyanis is the colour. it is proper brown. My advice would be to go for the mutton biriyani than the chicken. Simple reason - sometimes the breast piece turns out to be pretty hard and dry in this type of biriyani and that could be a buzz kill. Of course again, that's only my opinion. Usually it is served with onion raita and non veg gravy.
The USP of this biriyani is not the cooking time or process etc, but the spices and the rice used. It is a little pricy thou, being an AC restaurant and all. Each plate (a standard 'half') cost around 170 rupees, +/- 20, depending on whether you go for chicken or mutton or special varieties.

But as far as this restaurant is concerned, one doesn't simply just order the biriyani. They have a whole list of other items too. Sides varying from mutton chukka to seafood. but the biriyani is religiously ordered as the standard main course item. I usually go for their mutton biriyani along with 'thalapakatti special fish fry'.

My rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

How to reach there: Google it and you will get at least 15 results for Chennai alone. This is a multi outlet restaurant chain. and the food, ambience etc are more of less the same everywhere. I find the taste also to be consistent.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Charminar Biriyani, Peters Road - ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Category: B

Located amidst a very crowded and not so easily navigable road is Charminar biriyani center.

The east side of the peters road is filled with 100s of biriyani centers and arabian restaurants. one place in chennai, which is not to miss, if you are into biriyani, tandoori, grilled chicken, shawarma etc.

Charminar is one among the most popular and crowded biriyani centers here.

Although there is a small dining area. There are no chairs. The ambiance inside the shop is a little better than koyambedu bus stop, but it is worth it!

The biriyani is smooth, hot and sells like hot cakes. Every Time i had been there, I got to eat only chicken biriyani. With just 55 rupees for half a plate, no one can eat just one. Besides the portion provided is also a little lesser than the 'standard half'. And yes, you do get half of that half too, for 35 rupees. Half a plate followed by a 35 rupees top up would do for a grown individual. Total 90 rupees for a nice afternoon meal.

There are no sides. no other item is served here in this place.

A wise guy wouldn't take his car there. if he does then he has to walk atleast 1 or 2 kms from where he had parked.best way to go there is on your bike.

I wouldn't recommend the place for a family meal (in case you want to dine in). if your family must enjoy, then take out parcels.

My rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

How to reach there: if you are going from marina beach, then take the besant road (from annie besant statue) and travel a good 3-4 kms. you will find the shop on the right on peters road. And if you are going from mount road, take the peters road from mount road and travel 4-5 kms (cross all fly overs) and you will find the shop on your left. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Kick starting this journey with a quick intro.

There are 2 kinds of people in the world

  • Those who have a 'true love' for food
  • And those who do not deserve to be on earth. (Can be sent to Neptune, with oxygen tanks, nutrition pills and whatever which may keep alive)
Biriyani tasting is an art. Some people make it their mandatory main course item. Some people just dont mind what's on their plate, some travel quite some distance for a hot plate of their favorite biriyani, some of them go to wedding functions just for this. Some take pride in their own preparation. You could simply put it as "perception". But the truth is.. it requires great skill (aquired or born-with) to be a true biriyani master (maker or consumer). This could be applicable for any food for that matter. But biriyani is at the top of the list.

India has a great appetite for the dish. 1000s of chefs, cooks, families have spent 1000s of hours making, thinking and mastering this dish.

if you ask a person from hydrabad to eat a plate of mutton biriyani from thalapakatti, dont be surprised if he/she declines it. His/her tongue is probably seasoned with the "paradise" style stuff.

Incidently this hydrabad style biriyani is the least favorite among chennai-ites. That's the reason I have not included that in the poll. You do find some guys calling themselves 'hydrabad biriyani', but 90% of them have just borrowed the name and not the recipe from the great city..

Nevertheless, chennai has enough options to explore. Plenty. Plennnnnnty.
there are a few biriyani hubs in chennai (for instance, you would find nearly 30 small exclusive biriyani shops in a 2km radius of Periyamet!!!), but the passion is scattered all over this remarkable and amazing city.

The posts in this blog will rate places, small or big, near or far, ala carte or buffet, based on the biriyani that they serve. This is a guide for biriyani hunt in chennai.

Every review will carry a rating on a 10 point scale. Will give you the location, price, ambiance and few other details. Will also say what category it belongs to. It could be one among the following:

  • B - Bhai Biriyani (atleast that's what I call it) 
    • Arcot, Ambur, Vaniyambadi style
    • Predominantly the shops may carry muslim names.
    • Could be a small hotel or a big restaurant, but in most cases it is merely a booth style arrangement with a "plate master" with big dabara set (huge vessel) in front of the store. Sometimes it is just this dabara set with the masters.
    • Rich and aromatic with lotsa ginger and garlic. Basmathi rice. mostly light reddish or pale pink in colour. Served with onion raita and brinjal curry. The texture of the biriyani is usually a little moist, Quite oily.
  • D - Dindugal Biriyani
    • Dindugal style. a whole different animal.
    • Thalapakatti restaurant style. Also junior kuppanna etc.
    • Brown in colour. Made with 'Jeeraga samba' rice. Spicier than B but not C. 
    • Served with onion raita and gravy.
  • C - Chettinad Biriyani
    • Karaikudi style.
    • The one which you get in chettinad restaurants (anjappar, karaikudi and even salem RR for that matter).
    • Brownish yellow in colour. Again made with basmati rice. Spicier than 'B'. Contains a lot more spices. The texture is not so moist. It is a little dry.
    • Served with onion raita and chettinad gravy.
  • M - Mallu Biriyani
    • Malabar style. way different from all the above.
    • the one you get in hotels like safari, runs, coronet, samco etc. But usually biriyani is not the hot favorite in these restaurants. it's their parotas and side gravies. There are other formats like Hotel cresent etc.
    • This is the least spicy among all categories. Sometimes you may find some sweetness here and there (raisins and some other fruits). This is pale yellow or sometime yellowish white in colour. 
    • Served with onion raita and non veg coconut gravy.
  • O - Others - Miscellaneous
    • I am putting even Hydrabad style biriyani in this category, since it's not that popular in Chennai.

Come what may, even if a particular restaurant has other favorite dishes, I promise you, it will all be about biriyani!

Although I advise you to eat your biriyani with your fingers!!

Happy hunting!

p.s. if you have any suggestion, any places that you like, then pls let me know. Will explore that place and will review it here. After all,  life is all about mutual coexistence. :)