Mutton Biryani at Arsalan
I was asked over and over again about the top Kolkata Biryani joints for a long time, and I have decided to pen down a few of my favorite places. Mind you, I will include the popular names, since I am a fan of consistency, and most of the times, the top ones are also the ones which are the most consistent. It did not happen till a few days ago, when I decided to go on a biryani binge, and ended up sampling biryani from virtually every part of Kolkata, including Dada Boudi and Haji Saheb. However, after a considerable amount of contemplation, here is my list of the places where you can happily order Kolkata style biryani, and expect to get good food 8 out of 10 times.
Also, note, I am specifying the outlets where you will get the good stuff. I would suggest you stick to the outlet choice – these have been tried and tested over and over again, and they have given me excellent results.
Before I begin, here are a few things you must know. I based the review on ONLY KOLKATA BIRYANI. Which means, I ignored the Hyderabadi, South Indian, and Lucknow style biryani that is available in Kolkata. You must know a few things about Kolkata Biryani before we begin.
 Essentially, Kolkata Biryani is much lighter in the notes when compared to its Hyderabadi or Lucknow cousins. The reason is simple – The humidity of this region makes it impossible to digest anything very heavy, and the king’s cooks were worried about the emperor’s health, so, the biryani had a lighter texture and flavour quotient.
shiraz biryani kolkata

 

Kolkata Biryani features the Potato, once an exotic ingredient was introduced to the Nawab’s kitchen by the Portuguese, and the chefs used it because it was cheap and not familiar and replaced a considerable amount of the meat. The meat and the potato makes this biryani more carb-heavy, and therefore, heavier in calories than the Lucknow/Hyderabad counterpart.

 Kolkata Biryani, like Lucknow or Hyderabad versions of the Biryani, is a version of the Awadhi biryani, adapted by the cooks to suit the local temperament. I have asked a number of people over the years, and they agree that while “Awadhi” is more of a theory, the different versions of the biryani is more like the adaptation of the theory for practical solutions. So, under the broad spectrum of the Awadhi Biryani, you would find a number of adaptations – in different cities, according to the tastes of the locals.
Awadhi Biryani from Aminia
I met Imtiaz Qureshi last year, and had a brief conversation with him about the biryani. According to him, there are a thousand ways you can make Biryani. However, the most important factor to make the right kind is to understand the taste buds of the people who will be consuming it, the climate where it would be served, and the occasion. Therefore, Biryani could be a light and tasty affair, or a decadent affair, with more meat than rice. The typical Awadhi Biryani would consist of meat chunks, with the rice thrown in as a little hit of carb between mouthfuls of protein and fat. Also, he explained the importance of fat. Typically, a biryani with lean meat will have to have more oil to retain the moisture. The meat is supremely important too. Mutton should always be rewaji, or from animals which have a good bit of intramuscular fat, or the pardah, as well as the charbi, or the clinging, separable, visible fat.
1. Aminia, Golpark – I have a request – Never order the single plate. Always go for the Awadhi Biryani. Mutton. With a side of chicken chaap. At least, that’s the way I roll. One plate is good for two modest eaters, and you can also have some lovely galauti kabab to begin the meal, and end with the excellent firni they have. Although the Aminia at New Market is equally amazing, and they have the Aminia Special, which I love, I would still prefer this one because of the service, and the window-seats.
2. India Restaurant, Kidderpore, beside Fancy Market –  India Restaurant is one of my all-time favorite places simply for the Daryabadi Biryani, which is an elaborate affair, with copious amounts of rice, potato, soft meat, and aloobokhra, which I seek out in my plate of biryani like a maniac. I suggest pairing this with the Hariyali Kabab or the India Special Chicken Kabab. I have packed food from here a considerable number of times as a solo diner, and have been there with friends for a heavy lunch.
Biryani at New Aliah
3. Shiraz, Park St. Mallick Bazaar Crossing  – I am a loyal fan of the biryani at Shiraz, which, arguably, has the finest quality of rice in it, and it is also the least spicy version. The biryani is fragrant, light, and perfect, even without the addition of the egg, and I have to say, I don’t miss it. I love the mutton pasinda here too, soft chunks of meat cooked in a spicy gravy, perfect as a side with the biryani, and the star player with some thick naan.
4. Arsalan, Park Street, Near Free School Street – I went to three different outlets of Arsalan multiple times recently, and settled on this one after eating consistently eating really good food. Apart from the fall-apart meat, soft, moist, spicy rice, the buttery potato in the biryani is the show-stopper for me, and I generally ask for nothing else here. Although I would have to say the Arsalan Special Kabab, and the Mutton Boti Kabab are both pretty tasty, especially when you are willing to eat more.
Galauti Kabab at Aminia
5. Sabir, Chandni Chowk – Yes, Sabir is more popular for its over-hyped Rezala. I am, however, a loyal fan of the Biryani, which is essentially less spicy than Arsalan, and more fragrant, and meat-rich. It is, somehow, a cross between Arsalan and Royal for me – something I cannot explain. However, the softness of the mutton makes my day every time, and I finish with a Thums Up.
Honorary Mention: New Aliah, Hanglatherium, and Dastarkhwan/Mezban. I am excluding these places from the list because I am not pleased with the inconsistency in these places. However, Mezban and New Aliah are both pretty good, and they both make a mean chicken chaap on the side, for which I have forgiven them a lot of things.
Except being in the list.
Biryani at Royal
Now, many of you are wondering why I did not include the old favorite – Royal. This is the reason. People, let me break it to you gently. Royal does not make Kolkata biryani. It makes Lucknow Biryani. A fact which I knew before, but it was clarified to me perfectly after I consumed the mutton biryani in Lucknow and realized that Royal’s biryani is chiefly derived from that style, and its flavors and taste, therefore, differs vastly from the version you get in Kolkata. Plus, it has no potato, which is one of the key features of Kolkata Biryani. Hence the exclusion from this list. However, it is in my list of “BEST BIRYANI I HAVE HAD. EVER.”
End of story.
Asma Beef Biryani
There is also another section here who would love to see me talk about beef biryani in Kolkata. Here, I have a couple of hot favorites when it comes to Beef Biryani, out of which, one is situated in Baruipur Railway Station.
1. Zam Zam, Near St. James School – I was introduced to Zam Zam in 2008, by a good friend, and I remember eating biryani and listening to him strum his guitar, occasionally looking longingly at my biryani. I admit – the biryani here is the bomb – easily one of the best I have eaten, and the beef is soft and flavorful. But what makes this place extra special is the Beef Kashmiri and the Beef Malai that you can order on the side. The Beef Malai is stunning – with a milky gravy, similar to a rezala, but not exactly the same. Without tasting the creamy beef and the thick milky gravy, in perfect sync with each other, it is difficult to say what exactly the Beef Malai is.
2. Aminia, Colootola Region  – The original mothership of Aminias, this restaurant has been around for over 100 years, and yes, it serves beef. The beef biryani is decent, but what sets it off is the beef malai kabab.
3. Asma, Baruipur – If you have the courage and the need to eat, brave the Baruipur local and reach Aasma for the biryani and the chaap. I have done so, over and over again, and I have never been disappointed. Piping hot Beef Biryani, soft meat and potato, and a spicy chaap or bhuna on the side. A meal for two would set anyone back about 100-200 Rupees, depending on your ability to eat.
Beef Biryani at Zam Zam
Written by Poorna Banerjee

    7 Comments

  1. Shubhankar Mitra 2017-03-09 at 9:15 pm Reply

    The best biryani I have ever had is the daryabadi biryani and the kacchi biryani @India restaurant
    my next three destinations will be
    1)Sabir
    2)royal
    3)Zam Zam
    Your feedback was highly valuable
    Thanks!!!

  2. Savnish Sam 2016-07-09 at 11:22 am Reply

    Hi,
    Your kolkata biriyani blog is looking delicious..i will try it for sure..have you ever tried the god’s own country kerala’s verities of biriyani.which is also delicious.

  3. Savnish Sam 2016-07-08 at 11:33 am Reply

    Hi,
    This blog is very nice…i like all dishes attached here makes me mouth watering..Have you ever tried the indian dishes? especially the verity of Kerala Biriyanis , the God’s own country..

    • Poorna Banerjee 2016-07-13 at 1:20 pm Reply

      yes I tried it and it was great!

  4. Rajesh 2016-05-05 at 6:23 am Reply

    I thought about trying this recipe but it looked complicated so I just ordered it form restaurant. Result was a solid and taste is like wow.

  5. Mihir gadhvi 2016-03-30 at 6:16 pm Reply

    Wow what blog about Biryani…I am loving it

    • Poorna Banerjee 2016-03-30 at 9:23 pm Reply

      thanks!

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