Bookalokal: Hyderabadi Biryani

Tonight’s bookalokal verification was a biryani, a dish which is often on the menu of Indian restaurants but which I’d never tried, for some reason. Kiran met us at the metro station and guided us the two-minute walk to his apartment. Over a cool beer we got to know each other a little and discussed that night’s menu. He patiently answered our questions and gave us plenty of interesting detail about how it was prepared.

We moved from the sofa to the dining table.

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The master at the controls in the kitchen.

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Chapatis to the left, biryani to the right.

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As a starter we had chapatis with raitha and a sauce he made from the juices of the chicken in the biryani, mixed with tomatoes, onions and spices.

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This already was finger-lickingly delicous, and wonderfully spicy, but it was just the prelude to the main course.

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Chicken biryani, with slow-boiled eggs, and some cashews on the side to sprinkle on top as desired. Tender meat, bursting with flavour and mouth-tinglingly (but not painfully) spicy. Funnily enough, when Kiran tried it himself he was taken aback by how spicy he’d made it, and was surprised that it wasn’t too much for us. It seems that he’s had to turn down the heat to suit his Russian girlfriend’s tastes, and consequently his own tolerance has been lowered. I could happily have eaten two portions, but I was saving myself for dessert.

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Home made gulab jamun, and a cup of hot, sweet chai. The perfect end to a great meal.

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Apart from a mouthful of fennel seeds and sugar balls.

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The lesson is clear: if you want great Indian food, avoid the blandness of the city centre restaurants and find a local willing to make you the home-cooked real thing.