The dish evokes strong emotions from it's fans- no matter where in the world they are.
On the 21st of July 2017, I attended a Biryani Masterclass in the kitchens of Varq, Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi.
The restaurant itself is very elegant, complete with works by Anjolie Ela Menon from the 1970s. Specialising in Indian cuisine, the Biryanis and the Salan presented in the Masterclass were of the Hyderabadi style.
The Masterclass included a Vegetable Biryani, a Kache Gosht ki Biryani, and a Baingan Salan. Unlike other parts of India, in Hyderabad, a biryani is served with a salan, and not necessarily with yogurt.
The two biryani's were cooked in "Dum style" with a thick tawa below to diffuse heat evenly. While the underlying masalas in both were by and large the same, the difference was the use of fresh pineapple juice in the Kache Gosht ki Biryani, and of course the duration of the marinade (the gosht should ideally be marinaded over night).
While the masterclass itself was a wonderful experience, what was even more pleasing to see was that the ingredients were of high quality and easily available at any grocery store in the city. Quality ingredients such as aged basmati rice that had been soaked for 2 hours prior to cooking and cow's milk ghee were used.
Moreover, there were no artificial colour or flavour enhancers or chemicals used. For instance, no MSG or soda bicarb were used to make the vegetables more attractive or the dishes look or taste better. Technique was king when it came to both flavour, and attractiveness of the dishes.
The masterclass was followed by a scrumptious three course lunch consisting of the Dhokla amuse bouche, a starter of veg/ non veg kebabs (depending on whether you were a vegetarian or a meat eater) , the main course of Vegetable/Kache Gosht ki Biryani (depending on whether you were a vegetarian or a meat eater) accompanied by yogurt raita and the Baingan Salan. The last course was dessert which consisted of Jalebi, Gajar halwa, and Rabri. All were executed incredibly well, and the taste was formidable.
I would conclude by saying that the Biryani Masterclass conducted by Sous Chef B. Rajesh Kumar Singh at Varq, Taj Mahal Hotel was a delightful experience, one that I would wholeheartedly recommend to any one interested in food. You will find yourself appreciating this extraordinary dish even more than you did previously, and after attending the Masterclass you will hopefully be the talk of your family on your next attempt at making these dishes at home.
- If you don't have a tawa thick enough to diffuse heat properly for the Dum style of cooking, use two tawas!
- The tawas must be pre heated and be very hot before you put the biryani on them to cook.
- Par boil the vegetables for 3 minutes in boiling water, and then immediately put them into an ice water bath for 5 minutes to get the right colour and texture for the Vegetable Biryani.