When it comes to biryani, Kolkata biryani is class apart. A close cousin of the Awadhi biryani, the distinguishing characteristic of Kolkata biryani is the use of potatoes in it. The innumerable biryani joints abuzz with the crowd is the tell tàle sign of the city's love for this delicacy.
During our Kolkata food tour, the first place that we tried the biryani was at Manzilat Fatima's restaurant Manzilat's. After trying the subtle and hearty classic Kolkata style chicken biryani over there, the following day we set out to try one of Kolkata's best biryani at Dada Boudi hotel in Barrackpore. Situated in the Northern part of the city, Barrackpore was of much relevance during the British Raj, as it formed the administrative and military base then.
After an hour-long train journey, we reached the historical town of Barrackpore. Our destination in this busy city was the humble eatery named Dada Boudi hotel whose biryanis are insanely popular. On alighting from the train we straightaway headed to their biryani factory where the final batch of biryani for the day was about to be prepared.
The factory was like a huge room where an army of cooks was busy preparing a huge batch of biryani. The sight of the legend cauldrons, some over the gas stoves and some over the wood fire was absolutely thrilling. Here we met the industrious team of cooks and associates who meticulously and with effortless ease carried out the task of preparing the biryani.
Soon we realized that the whole process from beginning to the end is thoroughly structured and so for us, it was like watching one step smoothly transiting into the next and so on. If we have to give you a quick idea of the steps then it would be like first the potatoes were fried in spices, once done they were removed and kept aside. Next in the same masala, the meat was cooked with quite a few ingredients. When ¾ th done, it was removed from the fire and set aside. To this went a long list of ingredients. Simultaneously rice was par-cooked in a separate cauldron. When it was 70 percent done, it was strained and layered over the meat gravy. Finally the cauldron was sealed and put on dum. What really impressed us was the sheer dexterity and enthusiasm of the fellows working in tandem. We were amused by the way they were managing the huge fire and the enormous amount of heat emanating from the same without complaining.
Soon after the biryani got ready, they were loaded into mini goods vehicles and dispatched to the hotel. The eatery was crowded to the brim. Some were eating in the sitting area and some had queued up for the takeaway. Before digging into our plate, we spoke to Bapi da who told us about the place, its specialty, and the reason behind its unwavering popularity. We couldn't help but notice the sparkle in his eyes as he spoke about the place.
Finally, we settled down to eat the famous mutton biryani of Dada Boudi hotel. One morsel of this scrumptious fare just won our hearts. The flavours were varied yet subtle. The generous piece of mutton was tender and succulent. The rice was flavourful and fluffy and last but not least, the potato added a comforting touch to the whole dish. Undoubtedly this was the best we have had in Kolkata.
PS- The ingredients featured in the video are not the comprehensive list of the huge array of stuff that goes into the biryani. We might have missed out few of them because one part of the cooking had already started by the time we reached the facility.