Tried and tasted: Where to find the best biryani in Delhi this Ramzan
There’s nothing that I enjoy more than walking down the lanes of Old Delhi during the time of Ramzan, when people break their day-long fasts and crowd the streets for something to eat. The area is full of life even on other days, but on Ramzan evenings, it resonates with dazzling colour and sound.
If you have never been there during this time, you must plan a visit to Purani Dilli. The lanes around Jama Masjid – and the mosque itself -- are illuminated with fairy lights. There are stalls on the streets, and you can see people stocking up for their sehri and iftaar. Somewhere you will find fried chicken being sold, and elsewhere, special buffalo meat keema samosas.
I went to Haveli Azam Khan in Chitli Qabar, and landed up at Dil Pasand Biryani Point. This is a 20-year-old eatery, which is known for its buffalo meat and chicken biryani – both sold for ₹160 a kilo. On usual days, they sell seven huge deghs of biryani, but the sales skyrocket during the Ramzan evenings, when they are open till 5 am. Taufeeq ki biryani – as the fare is called, after the owner – has quite a reputation in and outside the neighbourhood, and people land up there from quite a distance to make a meal out of the rice dish.
I ate some of the buffalo meat biryani and found it delicious. It was surprisingly light, and not glistening with oil as biryanis can be. The pieces of meat were tender and had been so well marinated that they had infused in all the flavours of spices. The biryani was served with some raita – which was hot and meant to complement the mildness of the biryani – and pickle. I stayed away from the raita, and dug into my heap of rice, and had a very nice meal, indeed.
Food, in my not-so-humble opinion, tastes better when there is an aura of festivity around you. You can see people lining up in front of pakora shops, where fresh fritters with potatoes and onions are being fried, and elsewhere, where you will find golden chicken pakoras bobbing in huge cauldrons of heated oil. I usually go looking for my favourite keema goli and samosas during this period, but, alas, I found that they had all been taken.
But Taufeeq’s dilli biryani made me happy. After a hearty meal, I flowed with the tide and joyously walked with the old and the young who had descended to the streets.
There was an infectious buzz of activity all around me. I could see vendors with heaps of pheni — vermicelli mounds — and khajla — flour pancakes – which are often eaten by people before they start their fasts early in the morning. I could see heaps of dates, and vendors selling mixed fruit chaat and dahi vadas.
Just the sight of all this fills me with joy. I am going back there soon. But this time I have to make sure I am there in time for the keema golis.
RECIPE: Dilli ki biryani
Ingredients: 1 kg meat, 1kg golden sela rice, 2tbsp ginger-garlic paste, 200g yoghurt, whole spices – green and black cardamoms, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorn, 5 dry red whole chilies, 1tsp chili powder, a pinch of saffron, ghee or oil as needed, salt to taste.
Method: Fry the ginger garlic paste in hot oil or ghee. Add the meat and then the whole spices, the whole red chillies and powder. Fry till well coated. Add 150g of whisked yoghurt, and keep stirring on slow heat. Add the salt. Stir till the oil rises. Now add 3 cups of water and cook, covered, till the meat is 90 per cent done. Soak the saffron in a little bit of warm water. Add this to the remaining yoghurt and pour over the meat. Stir for a few minutes. In a degchi, cook the rice in 4 litres of water till almost done. Drain the rice. Spread it over the meat. Seal the lid and cook on high heat for a few minutes. Lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, add some ghee on top and serve.
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