Folks often mistake Kalyani biryani to be a cousin of the popular Hyderabadi biryani but this comparison is neither fair nor accurate. Simply put, Kalyani biryani is a no-nonsense, relatively pocket-friendly number, with cubes of beef dominated by flavours of jeera, tomato and dhania. It is not chock-a-block with expensive saffron either.
"However, despite this unpretentious turn, it is quite tasty and has earned many fans all its own," says Abdul Ghani, owner, Alhamdulillah Hotel which specialises in making the dish. With two branches in the city, the eatery sells about 3,000 plates at Rs 90 a plate. Compare this to other biryanis that are usually priced upwards of Rs 250 or 300 a plate depending on whether you prefer mutton or chicken.
"It's not just expensive ingredients that give rise to memorable tastes but good, solid recipes which bring about harmony in every constituent," says Ghani, who took over the running of the iconic hotel from his father Abdul Gaffar. "Over the last 30 years now, we have managed to maintain the original taste with great discipline and dedication. What's more, it's the very same cook -- Bismil Ustad -- who continues to be in charge of not just ensuring that the standards are up to par but also training the other cooks."
And yes, just like its counterparts, Kalyani biryani is a kachche gosht ki biryani which intersperses uncooked meat with rice and takes about 45 minutes of cooking time, including 15 minutes on dum.
History has it that this biryani is a creation that originated from the kitchen of the Kalyani Nawabs of Bidar, who settled in Hyderabad in the 18th century. The Nawabs were from Basavakalyan, on the outskirts of the erstwhile Hyderabad state. Hospitable and gracious to the core, their haveli was known to serve two meals a day to visitors with the Kalyani biryani being their signature dish.
In the 1950s, the original recipe caught the fancy of biryani enthusiasts in a big way once again. The backdrop to the revival was perfect -- the Indian government had taken over Hyderabad state in the much-debated Operation Polo. The nobility, including the Kalyani Nawabs, fell upon hard times and the cooks had to take up jobs elsewhere. Some joined existing food joints while others started their own roadside stalls. One of them started Dawood bhandi -- which made the best biryani. Located behind the dargah in Murgi chowk, close to Charminar, this was inarguably the best-known outlet to find Kalyani biryani in the fifties and sixties.
For his part, Abdul Ghani points out that one major plus in favour of the Kalyani biryani is that beef unlike, goat meat, tastes great and does not really give off an odour -- even when cold. "You can eat this biryani cold, unlike other biryanis that need to be heated up."
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