National Rice Week

Half-dozen biryanis to celebrate National Rice Week

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With a staggering 90% of UK households today buying rice along with the UK rice industry worth some £750m annually, this grain deserves to be celebrated nationally.

And we couldn’t think of anything better to mark National Rice Week (16-22 Sept) than to post up six of some of the best biryanis to try out this week.

All London-based (sorry non-Londoners, but you’re simply gonna have to try a little harder!), these aromatic and beautifully executed rice dishes are worth visiting these restaurants alone.

ANOKHA
biryani rice Anokha London, Indian, Halal restaurant

Shahi Gosht Biryani £17.95

Anokha London, Indian, Halal restaurantWe had the exclusive privilege of trying Anokha’s latest menu item only just introduced this week – a dum biryani.

This Shahi Gosht Biryani is a tremendous addition to the London biryani scene.

As one Lion noted: “Wow! That’s superb!” The fragrant rice was separate, distinct and beautifully cooked.

The masala, sufficiently coating the utterly tender chunks of lamb beneath, was superbly judged, impressively balanced, and offering good heat to warrant the cooling effect of the yoghurt accompaniment. Fresh-tasting, delicious and our dish of the review.

KAHANI
rice biryani Kahani London Indian Restaurant Halal Curry

Thalasseri Biryani (lamb) – braised fragrant rice, exotic spices, mint, corriander (with lamb or prawn), £23.00

We had some biryanis in our time, but by the end of Kahani’s, we were unanimous in it having set a new benchmark.

biryani prawn Kahani London Indian Restaurant Halal CurryThe balance of spices in the tender masala-lamb mixture, nestled neath a layer of fragrant rice to allow one to stir it in as desired, had a depth of flavour that all three of us found, in spite of our differing palates, to be expertly judged.

In fact, what made this entire biryani even more interesting was the pair of accompanying bowls of yoghurt raita and a “chilli ka salan”, respectively, where the former might be used to dampen the soothing heat generated by the “exotic spices”, and the latter, with its warm sweet chilliness, to strengthen it.

To be honest, however, unless you can’t take your heat, you won’t really need either, such is the judgement of the chef in the balance achieved.

If you’re going to come to Kahani for one dish and one dish alone, especially if you’re after a good biryani, then this… is… it!

KANISHKA
Kanishka Indian Halal restaurant Mayfair, London chef Atul Kochhar

Purani Delhi Ki Gosht Biryani (veggie version available upon request) – sealed and baked lamb and rice, served with burani raita, £28.00

Kanishka Indian Halal restaurant Mayfair, London chef Atul KochharThe anticipation of cutting across the top of a large dum biryani, with a perfectly baked bronze pastry dome shining for all its worth, is almost unparalleled when it comes to South Asian dishes.

This Purani Delhi Ki Gosht Biryani by Kanishka’s 2-Michelin star chef, Atul Kochhar, was no exception, particularly after lifting the pastry top and being met by a waft of the most decadent aromatic spices imaginable.

This biryani was also accompanied by a fairly small, yet exquisite bowl of burani raita – a thick yogurt with a hint of sweetness to it, which you might require more of to dampen those bold masala spices.

Given the high standards, some of us, while agreeing that this was easily above average, were perhaps expecting something more.

KOOLCHA
Rice Biryani Koolcha Indian Boxpark Wembley Halal

Lamb Biryani, £14.00

There’s no doubt that this Lamb Biryani by Michelin-starred Rohit Ghai’s Koolcha was up there with some of the best we’ve had. Wonderfully done in almost every way, with the spices judiciously balanced.

The fluffy rice was long grained and separate, with the classic masala evidently layered and mixed with fried onions that offered a light smoky edge.

And a very generous portion this was too, accompanied as it was with that authentic-tasting homemade yoghurt mentioned above. Recommended? You better believe it!

QUILON
Biryani Rice Lamb Quilon Restaurant Indian Fine Dining Michelin Star Curry Westminster London Buckingham Palace

Malabar Lamb Biryani – lamb cooked with traditional malabar spices in a sealed pot, with basmati rice

Who would have doubted this Malabar Lamb Biryani by Michelin star restaurant Quilon? An absolute triumph in every aspect, with spices layered so skilfully that the heat came through in progressive waves, though without ever being harsh in nature.

Not only was the rice aromatic, fluffy and straight-grained, but also contained fried onions, which added a touch of texture, as well as some smoky-sweetness.

PATRI
Patri Indian Halal restaurant Northfields London

31. Thumka Biryani (chicken) – basmati rice and served with Raita and Kachumber – Vegetable £7.50, Chicken £8.50

There’s biryani, and then there’s biryanis, but above the many we’ve reviewed over the years, there’s Patri’s Thumka Biryani!

The fragrance of the aroma emanating therefrom was on another level! But it was the clever impartment of smokiness, no doubt achieved by the “jerk” style of cooking (according to the menu ‘Thumka’ actually means jerk, with this biryani being made “fast and furious… at high flame”), which really caught our attention.

And perhaps it’s this rapid cooking process that accounts for the fantastic spices coming through so perceptibly and harmoniously, which included the warmth of the garam masala.

Hence, while this biryani had an intriguing gentle sweet aftertaste, which included the crispy fried onions sprinkled on top, it was the moistness of the flavoured rice alongside the tender segments of chicken, which made this the total package of biryanis.

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