Best Biryani In Kolkata According To The City’s Foodies - Plush Ink Best Biryani In Kolkata According To The City’s Foodies - Plush Ink

Best biryani in Kolkata according to the city with longest name’s foodies

The great Indian biryani is far from a singular entity. Across the country, it takes different forms, changing spice levels, consistency and cooking styles. The Kolkata biryani is unique because it’s mildly spiced, light and easy on the palate, unlike, say, the spicy Hyderabadi biryani. And, along with meat, the Kolkata biryani’s hero is also the potato. Historically, meat was something only upper classes could afford. So, potatoes and eggs were added to the Kolkata biryani for more flavour, texture and nutrition. It is also believed when Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh, came to Kolkata after the British took control of his lands in the 19th century, he lacked the resources to feed his people. So, to cut costs, meat in biryani was replaced with potatoes.

Unlike other Indian biryanis, which are eaten with salan or raita, the Kolkata biryani is a meal in itself, and needs no accompaniment. Many, however, many swear by the combination of biryani and chaap—slow cooked meat, in a luscious gravy. It’s a great spicy companion to the otherwise mellow biryani. As one of the most popular dishes in Kolkata, it also has a fan following to match. We spoke to some of the biggest foodies in Kolkata to get their pick of the best biryani in the city with longest name.

Best biryani in Kolkata

Arsalan, multiple outlets

“This is the “OG” biryani of my childhood and has the best flavour-to-grease ratio, says content professional and writer Toonika Guha. “The mutton biryani is my favourite. The meat always falls off the bone and the aloo makes it all the more special. Although most people believe that the biryani at all Arsalan outlets is the same, I have found that the one in Chinar Park makes the best biryani. Paired with their chicken chaap, it’s a meal made in heaven.” 

“There are two types of Kolkatans: the ones who swear by Arsalan and the rest,” says food and travel writer Malini Banerjee. “Started in 2002, Arsalan is by no means the first biryani joint in the city with longest name but it is by far the most popular and not without reason. The original store in Park Circus still has serpentine queues, come rain, hail or shine. There are regulars who dine there twice a day. They have managed to strike a perfect balance between spiced rice, mutton that falls from the bone and well-cooked aloo that absorbs all the flavour. Everyone has their favourite Arsalan outlet, of course, and that one guy at the door who you’re supposed to caution with ‘Boti theek se dena’. It is the comfort, familiarity and the taste that remains the same day after day that makes Arsalan my top pick for biryani. I was once scoffed at as a “typical South Kolkata girl” for picking Arsalan as the best and to them I say, ‘Keep your biryanis with their overpowering usage of kewra water and meetha attar, I am keeping my well-balanced Arsalan’,”. 

New Aliah Hotel, Bentinck St.

“This is another dear favourite for me, more out of nostalgia than anything else,” Banerjee says. “New Aliyah Hotel (31, Bentinck St, Mission Row Extension, Esplanade, Chowringhee North, Bow Barracks; call 9073331491) is known to most who have at some point worked in Kolkata’s CBD. It’s an old-school, no-frills restaurant with quick service, and it’s also easy on the pocket. They still have discreet curtained tables meant for ladies or families, but as a raucous group of women journalists out for a quick meal, my friends and I never really bothered. Their biryani feels lighter and the rice is not so thickly flavoured with masala that it overpowers your taste buds. Do give their rezalas a try if you want something even lighter.” 

Shiraz Golden Restaurant, Park Street

Shiraz (35, Park St, behind Neuro Science Hospital, Park Circus, Beniapukur; call 8585007649) is among the oldest biryani joints in Kolkata, and also among the best-known. “Their biryani is extremely delicate. Their biryani, mutton pasinda and mutton chaap is possibly one of the best food combinations you will have in Kolkata,” says food writer Poorna Banerjee.

Dada Boudi Biryani, Barrackpore

Dada Boudi (12/10, S.N. Bannerjee Road, Barrackpore; call 9007614830) started out in the suburbs of Kolkata back in 2001 or 2002 and quickly grew popular. “They gained popularity because the meat would be very big pieces—about 180-200gm. The potatoes are really tender, it just absorbs all the flavours from the rice and meat and becomes this umami-laden, buttery, meaty glob that you want to break into pieces and eat with the rice.” says Poorna Banerjee.

Royal Indian Restaurant, Bara Bazar

Though they are not known for their Kolkata biryani, Poorna Banerjee loves Royal Indian Restaurant’s Awadhi biryani, even though it does not have any potato. However, potato-lovers need not be disappointed. They have begun serving the Kolkata biryani as well. “If you eat their biryanis, you will realise that the flavour profiles are actually different, and the way they are sorting and parting the rice is different.”

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