A Gift to Mankind

                 Those long grained , scented saffron coloured piles of rice with hidden gems of a sweet succulent potato, an egg and a piece of meat, that mild flavours of cardamom, cinnamon -  YES!! you guessed it right - its BIRIYANI. Every Kolkatan by heart has an incessant love for the Kolkata style Bi-ri-ya-ni. But for me, its my first childhood crush, my unconditionally loved only heavenly thing on earth.
                There are many theories about how Biriyani came to India. But whoever it was, be it the Persians or the Mughals - I thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing this to us. It takes a long time, effort and worship to get that proper taste by cooking it , but it is worth all of that hardship which goes into the process. When a handful of such elegantly prepared morsel goes into my mouth it feels like...eternal bliss. My whole life I have been obsessed with Biriyani. When I was little , my relatives used to take me to wedding parties if they had Biriyani in the menu , even when I was not invited. I would go miles away from my home if someone promised to feed me this lovely dish. I remember a few years back when I visited my parents (who was in Delhi for a month and saved a bowl of Biriyani before coming to Delhi and kept it in the freezer) for the wedding of my best friend. I had that one month old Biriyani in spite of my parent's constant inhibitions and had an aweful
pet-kharab. But thank God ! There was Biriyani in my friend's wedding dinner menu which inspired me to get up from the bed, get dressed and be well. I owe you Biriyani..
                Now , there are a lot of variations of Biriyani. The Hyderabadi, Malabar and Delhi variants are a bit too spicy for me. But the Lucknowi (Awadhi) variant is my second love. I went to Lucknow and had a taste of the Awadhi cuisine and God promise I can go back to that place every year to get a taste of the Nawabi Biriyani and the melt in the mouth Galouti kebabs. I got to know that when the last Nawab of Lucknow was exiled to Kolkata , with them arrived Biriyani into my city originally famous for maach - bhaat (fish curry with rice). Eventually the Nawabs started reducing the amount of meat in the dish and replaced them with potato and eggs because they were not in a very good position, economically speaking. But Thank You! We, the people of Kolkata will be eternally grateful to you for this.
                You know I tried my hand in cooking Biriyani at home. But it is seemingly difficult to get that taste as my hometown styled Biriyani. Its difficult to satisfy your taste buds with that characteristic taste even from any of the Biriyani shops in Delhi. But its not their fault. It just needs dedication and love and time. I believe this gift needs proper care, nurture and commitment to build it with your own hands. But I will not lose hope. I tried cooking yakhni-pulao , a variation of rice and meat dish which is minutely close to the Kolkata style Biriyani , but it needs more practice to succeed and reach the actual goal. Till then, I am prepared to try, I am prepared to worship and in the end I am confident that I will achieve nirvana.
               Biriyani has always been my love - long before I even knew the meaning of love. Even when I am eating a Middle Eastern rice and meat casserole made by my part Indian - part European aunt I compare it with my favourite thing in the world. I love you Biriyani. My love for you has been with me since I was a little kid and is still counting time. You have been my saviour in heart breaks, you have been my saviour through tough times. You have helped me cope with all the stresses of life. You are GOD for me.


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