Kolkata – the mecca for biryani lovers
Pretty much like every other product or service up for sale in the city today, there’s always a choice between branded ones and non-branded ones.
In our case, we’re talking about branded biryani joints and those lone warriors who, over the time, have stood up to their forte without all the glitz. In this, series, we’re going to highlight the latter – Those Biryani joints, that mostly go unnoticed, but prepare a pretty decent meal and are loved by many.
Please be aware, this list is very very subjective, personal and biased.
Hence, carry on at your own risk
South Indian Tiffin, DLF Newtown
Firstly, let me start with the non-foodie area (so called) in Kolkata- the new town, Rajarhat belt. While driving from Nicco Park, once you cross this small bridge and on your left, you’ll find this huge DLF IT park- 1. It’s impossible to miss the huge structure. There are some 4000+ people who work in that complex (even I used to work there some time back) and for simple reasons, the adjacent road (in front of gate 1 & 2) has become Kolkata’s new food lane/ khao gully.
One can find items varying from sandwiches (done by an ex-Marriott cook) to naan-chilly chicken (with extra gravy) to sweets from Nadia and frankly what not!
This road maybe needs a separate post sometime, but here we’ll concentrate on the very last shop. You keep on walking down the lane… keep on walking, don’t get disheartened- cross the crowd and suddenly, as if out of nowhere, on your left (just opposite to a small market complex), you’ll find a handful of Teluguites chatting in front of small shop (jhoops, as they call it).
The jhoop is decorated with Telegu movie posters and seems extremely unimpressive. Don’t fear, go there and ask for a chicken biryani (please beware, it’s of South Indian variety- WITHOUT POTATO).
The guy will get you some rice from a big deg, chicken piece from another- pour sambhar on top (don’t panic please, even on a good day, he might as well ask you for a free second helping for it) and some garlic chutney on side.
There’s seating arrangement inside. Settle inside, take the first spoon and start cursing me. I know, it’s damn spicy. But I’m sure it is 100% enjoyable.
Heavily spiced with star anise and whole black pepper, this is like being in love for the first time. You don’t know what you’re getting into, but for the time being, it is extremely enjoyable.
At 35 /- for half plate, a great start.
Once you’re through and your tongue is burning, get on the other side of the footpath and you’ll find Nimai Da’s sweet stall. He sources them from KKrishnanagar and Nadia. Rest are fine, but his Gur coloured square sandesh is just terrific. At 7/- a piece, take 2 pieces and walk off.
Raj Biryani Center, CIT Road
Now let’s concentrate towards Beliaghata area. I’ve got a partiality for this because I stay here- period.
On CIT road, in between Phoolbagan crossing and CIT more, there are these jora petrol pumps (two adjacent pumps) and on the opposite footpath, in front of Nine Hills parlor, lies this hidden gem, Raj Biryani Center.
Before you start cursing me again, let me tell you, these guys are making this biryani and maintaining this stall for last 15+ years.
The biryani is slightly uncivilized and subtlety is not their forte. But the good part is they use less rose and kewra water, but still maintain the taste.
Statutory warning, keep an eye on the meat piece and you can select your own piece (“dada, ektu sina dekhe din na” should do the trick).
P.S: they offer you 2 medium mutton pieces, one potato and one egg (which I never take)- the simple reason being half plate biryani is also sold here with one piece of meat and on request, they also give some of their mutton kasha gravy with biryani (if you don’t take salad)- take away is recommended from this place.
“dada, ektu sina dekhe din na” should do the trick
Samar da’s Biryani, Priya Cinema
For those staying in South Kolkata, do not get disappointed, we are coming there too. Have you been to Priya Cinema hall, Deshapriya Park? Beside it, there’s Bani Chakra (the famous musical school) and stellar furnishing. In front of stellar furnishing shop, you can find this
small shop selling biryani and this guy doesn’t seem to be resting ever, such is the demand.
This gentleman, Samar da, takes his weekend break on Sundays and on all other days, brings 2 big handis and shuts his shop down once that’s over. No other item is available here other than chicken and mutton biryani.
The USP is the pinch of chat masala and salt he sprinkles over the biryani once served and that makes the difference. Meat piece is generally moist and soft and as for a person like me, half plate@ 35-40/- (I keep on forgetting the exact amount) is sufficient for a working lunch. Parking is available, hence not something to worry about.
You can check out Part 1 of the non-branded Biryani trail of Kolkata here
Taj Hotel, Rajabazar
I’m saving the best one for the last. The hidden gem in Rajabazar area- Taj Hotel.
Once you enter Keshab Sen Street from Rajabazar crossing towards Amherst Street, after a few minutes of walk, it’ll come on your right side.
Please DO NOT TAKE YOUR CAR (though 2 wheeler is fine), forget about hygiene (though I’ve never been sick while eating here from the past 10+ years) and get in. You’ll find a true Kolkata styled biryani.
Though on a bad day, it tends to get a little spicy, but with long grains of rice and one big, soft, fatty meat piece and potato (might be avoided), hardly anything can go wrong.
For breakfast, they make a fantastic mutton korma also.
Anyway, coming back to the biryani, I would suggest a full meal here (again, forget about hygiene).
Start with a piece of chicken fry. 25-30/- for a big drumstick marinated in some strange chicken-65 like masala and deep fried and served to your plate immediately doesn’t sound like a bad deal to me.
The next item should be their special mutton biryani with one extra potato piece (because you’ll take your friend along- right) followed by their chicken korma/ kassa and 1 tandoori roti each. Trust me, you won’t regret.
I guess, you’re not expecting any fancy seating and service?
Well, they boast of an AC, but its mostly not working. Go there, I don’t think you’ll regret.
Kolkata has got many hidden gems tucked in those dingy lanes and I guess this series will continue…
To know more such awesome hidden gems around Kolkata, check out Mohamushkil