Monday, October 24, 2011


I am sure you have read my blog post THE PERFECT BIRYANI - THE FIVE TESTS

I am pasting the article below for you to read in case you haven't read it yet:

Tasting and Testing
The Perfect Biryani

A plate of mouthwatering Biryani is placed in front of you.

On first impressions, how do you judge a Biryani…?

Well, as far as I am concerned, there are four basic tests you must carry out to assess a Biryani.

Test No. 1


First try the “Spread Test”.

Pick up a little Biryani in your fingers and sprinkle it on the side dish. The grains of rice must not stick together but remain separate. The pieces of meat must be succulent, clear and dry, not greasy, and easily separate from the rice.

A good Biryani will easily qualify the spread test.

Test No. 2


Lift the plate of Biryani and smell the pieces of meat. The Biryani must be pleasantly aromatic and you must be able to discern the delicate sweetish fragrance and appetizing mouthwatering aroma of marinated spices and the aroma must not be overpowering, sharp or piquant. The Biryani must pass the “aroma test” with flying colours as there is nothing more appetizing than a mouthwatering aroma…!

Test No. 3


Taste the meat, ideally mutton. It must be well-cooked, flavoursome, succulent, delicious.

Then roll some rice on your tongue – the subtle flavour and taste of the spices must mildly and pleasantly come through, and must not be overpoweringly spicy, greasy or pungent.

Test No. 4


Now you come to the fourth and final test – the “Potato Test”.

Dig deep and search for the potato in the Biryani.

The potatoes must taste as scrumptious as the meat – that is the hallmark of a superlative Biryani.

And if there is no potato – well dear fellow foodie, tell me, can there be a perfect Biryani without a potato which tastes as delicious as the meat…?

Well I thought there are four tests to evaluate a Biryani, but a fellow blogger Alok told me about a fifth and final test - The Temperature Test. So here it is!

Test No. 5


There is a 5th test for Biryani. Has it been served at the right temprature with light aromatic steam coming out from the rice and do you feel the warmth on your tounge when you eat  the inner part of the mutton.


So the next time a plate of Biryani is put in front of you, before you eat it, do carry out these simple five tests and tell us all about it – did the Biryani pass all the tests with flying colours? Is it a perfect Biryani?

In response to this article I have received a very insightful comment from Anshumali Lucknow Tandon (on our linkedin group) which I am reproducing below verbatim for the benefit of all Biryani lovers:


I have not had original Hyderabadi Biryani, inspite of claims to the contrary by the protesting Chefs, hence my comments are based solely on Awadhi cuisine ! 

Aroma : As the dried dough used for "Dum" is peeled away the first waft should be of Kewra. The next waft of curling stem should carry the the mouth watering sweetness of tender succulent meat ( dry meat rarely has any aroma).Then comes the thick lingering aroma of rice which is carrier to all the other condiments. 

Sight : The rice & meat should appear as the classical heroine's just washed hair in Raja Ravi Verma painting : They may appear wet but they are not for they have ben well dried. It is that sheen on the rice which will force you to involuntarily wet your lips with the tip of your tongue, inspite of the most disapproving glances from your wife & daughter. 

Touch : Never ever use a fork or spoon to eat Biryani. Why bother ! As Mr Vikram rightly points out the rice should separate and not have any oil on it. If it is mutton the meat fibres should part to the gentle nudge of your anamika, the finger reserved for rituals : this being one of the most Holy rituals, never use any thing other than anamika for judging the softness of mutton or chicken. If it be Chicken then it should appear sheathed in yellow-orangish silk, such should be the sheen. Again the sheen should part to a gentle nudge to reveal succulent tender inner fibers. Of course no other contaminant should disturb this eveolving Jugal bandi between rice and meat, for inspite of mandatory presence of other ingredients, a Biryani is neccesarily a Jugalbandi between Rice and Meat and rest of the condiments are just side rhythm.( I wont delve further on this theme of Jugalbandi for it's a different matter altogether.) 

Taste : The first taste one gets is that of the rice and the rice should speak about the sweetness of earth and the love with which it was nurtured by the farmer, saltiness of the sweat and the inventiveness of the Chef who was careful enough not to mask the Swaroop (basic nature) of rice. For the next few minutes or whatever length of time that one might take to continue the interview with the Biryani gracing one's life at that moment, the Permanent Sentiment (Sthaayi Bhaav) shall be rice and the Fleeting Sentiment (Sanchaari Bhaav) shall be Meat ( Mutton or chicken). As the tender piece of meat begins it Life-force enhancing journey with a mouthful of rice it should offer it's deepest secrets to the mere prodding of the tongue. It is not a Biryani but Pulao, if teeth were required for reaching to the taste of meat. Even as Rice and Biryani settle down into their Jugalbandi other condiments lik elaichi, daal chini, kaali mirch should gently step in to fill the space with their gentle notes. But Kewra, to me is like the Tanpura, doesn't do much except reminding the two main players about the Basic Note, Can't help it if I am biased towards Kewra in Biryani. Never saw a concert without Tanpura, even if it be modern electronic miniature. 

Post- Interview : Like all good things in life, even this interview would come to an end. But a good Biryani is that which shall remind one of itself even two hours later with a gentle waft of aromas past as the hand would gently brush past the nose. It is a good Biryani that reminds of itself even as one is Contemplating a wrok of art or listening to a musical piece rendered by one of the Maestros.



Did you like this?
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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and he is currently working on his novel. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts. 

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Archana said...

Excellent! We must savour food using our five senses and not only taste! Do recommend more 'tests' for other foods as well!!

Aloke said...

Reminds me of the movie 'Cheeni Kum Hain' and a most animated discussion about the perfect Biryani between the protaganists (played by Amitabh & Tabu). I'd recommend you to watch it, if you haven't already.