Thursday, August 03, 2006

Biriyani Blues

Last Saturday, we set out on what is increasingly becoming our fornightly trips in search of our roots. We went on one of those long drives, where we are always on the lookout for anyplace that smells and spells I-N-D-I-A from a mile's distance. As a result of our enthusiastic ventures, one 'Bombay Bazaar' is flourishing. Whoelse I wonder would shop for Britannia 50-50 biscuits, Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Sauce and Haldiram's khatta mithaa mixture and end up spending $200 everytime? The store owner - one sharp businessman with enough acumen has been quick to spot our weakness. So, he never fails to gift us DVDs (surely copied from other pirated DVDs judging by the poor quality) of the latest Hindi movies and always tempts us with sample 'Frooti' bottles. This way, he ensures, that we keep going back to the same place, even though prudence tells us that if we travel further down to a slightly known place called Chicago, Maggi Noodles will cost less than $7 ( I believe it costs Rs.9 in India and that $1 = Rs.46 now) and that a plate of Biriyani will cost not $11 but $3.

Anyway, fools will rush in and so did we when we soptted something that looked like a restaurant and called itself 'India Darbar'. Deprived of biriyani, this place seemed like manna from heaven when we found Mutton/Chicken and vegetable biriyani on the menu. We immediately ordered enough to feed a family of four for a week. When the goras in the next table sniffed and wept because of the spice in the food, we satisfied ourselves, that we were in the right place. Somebody got a chicken sizzler and our appetite soared. Politeness was all that stood between us and the kitchen door. Then somebody walked towards our table carrying food...

The rest they say is called anti-climax. What lay on my plate was rice and mutton gently sauted in meat masala. Gone was the Basmati rice without which biriyani is indispensible. Gone was saffron and even the smell of rose water that I detest so much in biriyani was missing. We could not eat it. I still remember some people weeping out of shock. We ordered tandoori chicken and given that our expectations had sunk to a new low now, it was quite good. We drowned dinner then, with some decent chicken curry and peas pulao (that's what they called it, but it was actually rice with some green peas thrown in for effect) and naan (I suspect it was a pre-cooked naan, but it was edible)

Nearly $80 the poorer but still not wiser perhaps, we left for home. Our initial mission from which we strayed so much was to find a place where we could get Halal meat. This we did not get. Seems to me, there is sufficient reason therefore, so set out again next weekend for another place from where we can hope to get a whiff of India!!!

8 comments:

Akash said...

I'm quite curious to know whether finally you got some eateries who sell biryanis for $3 per plate. In some places in the continental Europe, they offer something in the name of chicken biryani for 14 euros per plate. That too is too sanitized to suit the palates of the local people that I doubt whether it should be called that food. But I guessed in the US the cost, and the taste as well, should've been relatively more attractive for large Indian/South Asian population.

stiletto said...

Indian food outside of the subcontinent is atrocious. that of course holds true for any cuisine - food is usually customised to local palate. So the food u had is wht the firangis want, and not necessarily meant for u *sly, devious grin*

Akash said...

asha kori apni bhaloi aachhen.. onek din kichhu likhchhen tikchen na ...tai bhablaam ektu khNoj ni.:)

Anwesha Chatterjee said...

@Akash: Trust me, the best Indian food that I have tasted so far in this country is at home. It does not speak very well for Indian restaurants, but I am being honest here. I hope to blog someday about my battles in the kitchen, and how I am winning them gradually.

@Stiletto: Right you are!!!!!But we spoke to the manager in Hindi and we discussed Indian food with him and it was worth it. English is killing me now!

Jeet said...

There are some decent restaurants in NYC and NJ.

That maggi is expensive. Here we get 3 for $1 (in NJ).

For your last post, Americans are that fattest people on this planet! We eat more, waste more, our food is filled with steroids.

neway
tc

Akash said...

@anwesha: Yes, yes. Do blog about some exotic, exquisite recipes also, for us to learn them for free. It's very handy when it comes to charming prospective gfs ;). They say this is infallible.

Anwesha Chatterjee said...

@Jeet: We eat more, waste more, our food is filled with steroids. WE???????? You not Indian?

@Akash: Sure!!! the way to a woman's heart is also through her stomach. Trouble is, exotic food often falls flat. If you can make her a decent lunch/dinner..the ghar ka khana type, I am sure she would be much more impressed. I speak from personal experience though!

Akash said...

@anwesha: No. No. No. The earth has now become void of those gals. Yes, personal experience;)