I’ve eaten a lot of Biryani. And I can safely say that no two Biryanis that you’ll eat from different homes or different restaurants will be the same. Each Biryani comes with its own set of ingredients and spices, that have been mastered over a course of time, after careful trial and error in the kitchen. In fact, my granny does a Parsi Biryani too, even though so many people say there’s nothing like a Parsi Biryani, my granny and I will beg to differ. I really like the India Map below which depicts the Biryani trail, and is the perfect example of how this dish got hybridized everywhere it traveled.
And then there came Biryani360- unlike any other Biryani I’d eaten before. I was introduced to Biryani360 and the concept by the PetPujaris group, as a part of their month-end ‘Kadka’. (More about the group on their Facebook page here.) We were all huddled up at Biryani360’s CEO, owner and passionate Biryani lover Shayan Italia’s home on one sunny Sunday afternoon to hear about his labour of love. I wasn’t aware of Biryani360 at that time, and I refrained from reading up any online reviews, so I went there with a blank slate and an hungry stomach.
Shayan and his team spent a long, long time developing the recipe and trying out different Biryanis around the country, to narrow down what their dream Biryani would be like. Collaborating with food guru, Nikhil Merchant aka Nonchalant Gourmand, helped the brand and they worked out their trademark Biryani recipe. Biryani360’s recipe and ingredients are one of a kind and safely guarded. Be nice, and they may share a secret or two!
Biryani360 does two types of Biryanis – a Veg and a chicken, Un-Veg one. For me, Veg Biryani equals Pulao. I was of the strong opinion that nothing like Veg Biryani exists. And a non-vegetarian Biryani equals Mutton. That’s just how my brain’s food center has been wired. Biryani360 had a tough task ahead; to prove me wrong on both beliefs.
Shayan spoke about his concept of having a completely online ordering system – either through their website or smartphone app. All payments are also to be made online, eliminating the need for cash on delivery and the hassles that come with it, in the process. By now the smell of the biryani wafting through the kitchen was playing havoc with my mind, and I couldn’t wait to dig in!
First up was the Un-Veg Biryani. Even before you take a bite, the aroma of saffron hits you. Biryani360 claims to use three different types of saffron to alleviate the taste and aroma. I took a huge spoonful, and the spice got me! This is a spicy Biryani, not for the faint hearted. I found my first bite to be too spicy, but then your palate gets used to the spice later. It’s a good spice – nice and lingering, without making steam come out of your ears. There are just the right amount of vegetables interspersed in the rice, and the chicken pieces (boneless, #FTW) are of the right size and cooked well. I also enjoyed the use of raisins in the Biryani, which provides a nice diversion from the heat.
The winner is definitely the raita- spiced yogurt with mint, and no chopped up vegetables. It helps balance out the intensity of the heat in the Biryani, which I wouldn’t have been able to eat had the raita not been there. I enjoyed my Un-Veg Biryani, even more after we were made to try out Biryanis from other popular outlets who have been famous for this dish (no, I will not take names). Biryani360 differed on two accounts: oil and consistency. The Biryani is comparatively a lot less greasier and is healthier than most Mughlai Biryanis you eat in the market. Also, every spoonful of Biryani360 was consistent in terms of flavour, spice and vegetables; something I did not find in the others.
I know Biryani360 only does a chicken variant which I enjoyed so much, I wouldn’t mind trying out a mutton Biryani360. They don’t make one (yet), ‘because of the inconsistencies of cooking mutton on a large scale’. The Biryani is definitely on a spicier side, so people who simply cannot tolerate spice- stay away! This is not for the faint hearted. If you cannot tolerate heat, this may not be for you. Otherwise, douse your Biryani in copious amounts of raita, like I did, and you’ll be just fine.
The Veg Biryani arrived next, and I was really looking forward to eliminating the ‘Veg Biryani is Pulao’ myth from my head. Sadly the Veg Biryani that afternoon, was lacking in the most important element- salt. I guess they were still in their experimental stages with the Biryani, and hence did not gauge how much salt was needed when they had opened up a new salt packet. Nevertheless, not getting the salt right is a big no-no, and because of that I wrote the Veg Biryani360 off completely.
The Sequel: Four weeks down the road, I received a mail from Shayan asking me to come over for yet another tasting. He promised the Veg Biryani would live up to my expectations, and I’d get to taste the authentic Veg Biryani360 – with the salt and everything!
With a very strong deja-vu feeling, I trek up the steps to Biryani360 HQs another Sunday afternoon. The same fragrant aroma and the same inviting platter of Biryani awaited me. I dug into the Veg one, and I was pleased! Heaps better than what I had eaten previously. This one was exactly like the Un-Veg Biryani360, without the chicken, and with more ginger. The first Biryani I ate where I did not crave meat alongside. The Un-Veg one definitely gets my vote, only because of the chicken, but the Veg comes pretty close to a ‘Biryani’.
Biryani360 comes in the cutest, colorful, individually packaged boxes containing 300 grams of the choice of your Biryani and raita, for Rs. 360. I still maintain that it’s slightly on the pricier side. A lot of people The target audience for such a Biryani may not be those looking for a greasy, cheap and cheerful, post-alcohol binge. Many of us are not open to the concept of paying so much for a Biryani at our door-step.
A salad or a pasta, we will readily pay for. Especially a veg Biryani, where our mind set is such that, it should be cheaper than a non-vegetarian one. The target audience here are those who will appreciate the health benefits, and high-end ingredients -a well informed diner with a discernible palate. I am not too sure how well this concept will work with the masses, for whom Biryani is associated with large ‘handis’ of the dish with an oil layer on top, not an individually packaged, healthy Biryani.
(For more information check out www.biryani360.com)