Real Kalyana Biryani
Hanging out in Nungambakkam? If you want a traditional meal, head to the blandly-titled Real Kalyana Biryani restaurant. Walking down the stairs to their basement dining hall, you can soak up the aroma of freshly-ground spices blended with well-cooked meat. As the name suggests, this place specialises in traditional Muslim biryani served at weddings.
Customers eat off freshly washed banana leaves, which are quickly filled with biryani, followed by a onion raita, brinjal gravy and a sweet, which changes every day. On the day we visit it’s a cheerful yellow kesari. Busy through the day, the restaurant draws about 150 customers for dinner alone. “Our biryani is authentic and tastes of home. We use pure ingredients and hygiene is our prime concern,” says Yasar, manager of the restaurant. Apart from this they cater for parties and family get-togethers. They are particularly popular with the offices in the vicinity, and are busy through lunch sending out parcels. “I come here because I feel the food is tastier than at any other biryani restaurant. I also like the fact that they have good quality as well as quantity. So it is value for money,” says Anand, who eats here at least three times a week.
Where: Nungambakkam High Road
How much: Rs.75 (for one)
When: Noon-4 p.m, 6 p.m.–10 p.m.
Tel: 9840480435/4282 21128
The appealing yellow and red board of Bismi Biryani on Thiruvanmiyur main road is difficult to miss. Bismi Biryani has made its mark for over 10 years. Most of the customers we met are loyalists and say they have been eating at this joint for more than two years at least.
S.J. Hussain the owner of this branch (there are a number of restaurants bearing the Bismi name across the city — though we’re cautioned that only some are ‘original’) tells us, “Before starting this biryani centre I was poor and found it difficult to provide for my family. The restaurants have brought me wealth and laurels. Today I am well-settled and a very happy man.”
Customers particularly relish his chicken fry and mutton biryani, which are served as a combination meal. There is a crowd of almost 300 people at lunchtime, many of whom stand and eat outside, or order parcels due to the lack of space. Chef Ummar Ali, also known as ‘Master’ is a big draw for his chicken biryani. Between spooning out the dish, he says that customers come looking for him. “I am happy that my food makes them happy.”
Where: Thiruvanmiyur Main Road near bus depot
How much: Rs. 60 (for one)
When: 11 a.m.-10.30 p.m.
Tel: 99412 70613, 99411 87572
Al Taj Biryani
Triplicane is a tough area to function in when you are in the business of biryani. “There are around 40 shops in and around this area, and we still manage to stand out,” says Hussain, the owner of Al Taj Biryani. Claiming that they are one of the oldest biryani restaurants in the locality, and are still leading the pack thanks to their special ‘Vaniyambadi style of biryani,’ he says “we have almost 350 customers on regular days and around 600 customers on Sundays”.
Al Taj Biryani’s advantage is the freshly-made biryani, made with their trademark blend of spices sourced from Vaniyambadi. (A small town near Vellore, Vaniyambadi is famous for its Mughal-style biryani, influenced by the Nawabs of Arcot. In a nod to the origin perhaps, this restaurant features Mughal paintings on its walls.)
They are particularly popular because they were the first ones to introduce ‘combo meals’ among the small biryani centres in the area. Their combo consists of finely roasted chicken 65, steaming hot biryani with chicken or mutton along with an aerated drink. The combo made the restaurant hugely successful, drawing in many customers and party orders. They have branches in Mylapore and Royapettah as well. Mohammed Yasar, a regular customer, who reluctantly pauses mid-way through a bowl of bread-halwa (their speciality dessert) says that he likes eating here because the food not just tasty, but also hygienic.
How much: Rs. 100 (for one)
When: 10 a.m.-11p.m.
Tel: 98400 74038
Chennai Rowther Biryani Centre
Rowther Biryani is best known for its huge dining hall which includes both AC and Non-AC seating, looking into an open kitchen. Airy and spacious, it accommodates around 100 customers at one go. Mohammed, who owns the restaurant, tells us how he, along with three waiters handle the service. “Two in the AC section. Two in the non-AC section. Work is tiring but interesting.”
He adds, “We use only the best quality rice and 100 per cent halal meat for our customers.” His customers include office-goers, college students and families. The open kitchen is the main attraction — you can see the cooks doing everything from cutting vegetables to tossing up plates of hot biryani. They also offer a range of other dishes, from tandoori to Chinese. However biryani is clearly the star here. “I am not from Chennai, I just came here for work. I live alone, and I don’t have time to cook. Rowther Biryani centre is a big help,” says Akhilesh, between bites of chicken biryani. “Service is fast and friendly. It is like a home away from home.”
Where: K.B. Dasan Road, Alwarpet
How much: Rs. 70 - Rs.100 (for one)
When: 11.30 a.m.- 4.30 p.m., 6 p.m. -11 p.m.
Tel: 93804 50979, 4323 0636
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