Sunday, May 27, 2012


Lucky Mutton Biryani

The best Biryani in Pune comes from Mumbai.

You think I am joking?

Well, I am not joking. Just read on.

You do not get good Biryani in Pune.

You don’t agree?

Then prove me wrong and tell me where you get good Biryani in Pune.

As far as I am concerned, even the much celebrated Dorabjee, Blue Nile and Good Luck Biryanies are a bit too oily and spicy for my taste.

And most other places in Pune pass off greasy and spicy Pulao as Biryani.

You know the difference between a Pulao and a Biryani, don’t you?


Let me tell you.

When you cook the rice and the meat together it becomes a Pulao.

When you cook the rice separately and the meat separately and then layer them alternately, it becomes a Biryani.

Now let’s talk of Lucky Biryani.

No. No. Don’t get me wrong. I am not living in the past and talking of the long disappeared Lucky Restaurant in Deccan Gymkhana Pune where the late Dev Anand used to enjoy Biryani. I am talking of the Lucky Restaurant in Mumbai.

When I lived in Churchgate I mainly relished Biryani at many of my favourite restaurants in South Mumbai – like Olympia in Colaba, Delhi Darbar on Falkland Road (Patthe Bapurao Marg) off Grant Road (or its branch near Metro on Marine Street) or Shalimar in Bhendi Bazar or Noorani near Haji Ali.

(For Pulao there is nothing to beat the famed Berry Pulao of Britannia of Ballard Estate)

In the suburbs my favourite place for Biryani was Lucky Restaurant in Bandra.

Lucky is on the junction of Main Road and Hill Road – just get out of Bandra Railway Station on the western side and walk straight to the main SV Road and you will see Lucky on the opposite side.

Now let me tell you where I found Lucky Biryani in Pune.

Every Saturday we go for shopping to Aundh. Now if you live in a godforsaken place like Wakad the nearest civilisation is Aundh, so that’s where we go for our weekly shopping.

(I wonder why no one has thought of opening a mall and multiplex in Wakad – the way Wakad and Hinjewadi are expanding there will be no dearth of customers)

A few weeks back when we were walking around in Reliance Mart and stopped for a bite at the food stall I saw a non-veg freezer section and ventured in. I was pleasantly surprised to see cartons of Lucky Biryani under the counter. A little sceptical about how the “frozen” Biryani would taste, I nevertheless got a pack home, warmed it in my microwave, and let me tell you that the Biryani tasted almost as good as the original. Now whenever I go to Aundh, I pick up Lucky Biryani from Reliance Mart.

There are four tests to judge a Biryani and let us see how Lucky Biryani performs in these tests. (By very definition Biryani means Mutton Biryani and terms like Chicken Biryani, Fish Biryani and Vegetable Biryani are misnomers).

Test No. 1
First I try the “Spread Test”.
I pick up a little Biryani in my fingers and sprinkle it on the side dish. The grains of rice do not stick together but remain separate. The pieces of mutton are succulent, clear and dry. The Biryani is not greasy and the mutton pieces easily separate from the rice.
Lucky Biryani will easily qualifies the spread test.

Test No. 2
I lift the plate of Biryani and smell the rice and pieces of mutton. The Biryani is pleasantly aromatic. I can discern the delicate sweetish fragrance of curds and bouquet of appetizing mouth-watering aroma of marinated spices. The aroma is not overpowering, sharp or piquant.
The Biryani passes the “aroma test” with flying colours

Test No. 3
I taste the mutton. It is well-cooked, flavoursome, succulent, delicious – the distinctive attribute of well marinated meat. The I roll some rice on my tongue – the subtle flavour and mild taste of the spices comes through – the Biryani is not overpoweringly spicy, greasy or pungent. It is exactly how a good Biryani must be.

Test No. 4
Now I come to the fourth and final test – the “Potato Test”.
I dig deep and search for the potato in the Biryani and pop a piece of potato in my mouth. The potato tastes as scrumptious as the meat – the hallmark of a superlative Biryani.

Lucky Biryani has qualified all the four “Biryani Tests” with flying colours. Now it is time to relish and savour the Biryani.

I once again say that you don’t get good Biryani in Pune. Will some Punekar prove me wrong. Till then I’ll keep picking up Lucky Biryani on my weekly visits to Reliance Mart.

Happy Eating.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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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 is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 15 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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Lost and Found said...

I couldn't agree more. Pune really lacks good biryani. The best I've eaten is in Mumbai. A friend and I actually took two days off and hunted for good biryani around Mumbai. I found so many wonderful places to eat! I just hope one of them opens up a branch here.

Unknown said...

I agree with the fact that when you cook the rice and meat separately and then layer them one on top of the other, it becomes a Biryani, but don't agree that you cannot find good biryani in Pune.Try Amma's Hyderabadi Biryani in Dhanori once and you will have to change your perception.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Hina - Thanks. I must try Amma's Biryani, though Dhanori is quite far away. Any other good biryani in Pune you recommend?

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Lost and Found - Have you discovered a decent Biryani in Pune?

MangoKavi said...

Vikram, I echo your opinion! Pune has no good biryani joint! I am a foodie and love trying out good places.. Even the exotica at Panchsheel is not worth for food. only the ambiance is good. I love the food at Mumbai name it and u get the best of it.. Jai hind, Gomantak, Lucky.. Try snack Shack pali naka's biryani.. its good.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Kavita
Thanks for your suggestions - but hey, where is Snack Shack? In Pune or Mumbai?
Pune has many "improvised" Biryanis you have to make do with.
Try the "Chicken Tikka Biryani" at George on East Street in Camp (Of course, I am sure you must have done so) and Dorabjee Biryani (Parsi Style)
Happy Eating

Omesh Moorjani said...

Alas! I was going to recommend the biriyani at george but guess you've been there, I find it the best from most joints around pune, The biriyani at Nawad is also worth mention, Nawab is located on the left say around 100 meters ahead of blue nile its on the first floor and also has a bar area, good food.

Pratik Oturkar said...

Hi Vikram ,
Do one thing go to nana peth near quarter gate
and ask for rashid khan.

he will charge you 750 rs for one kg biryani and you will stop talking about mumbai.

and few more hotels for biryani please check which will clear your misunderstanding

1) Durgar Biryani House (Near Datta mandir , behind tulshi bag

2) Gourav Biryani house (Near Mahatma phule Mandai ganpati )

if you like any of them please update your blog

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Dear Pratik:
I agree with you about Rashid Khan's Biryani - I have enjoyed it many times and indeed it is superb.
Somehow, I did not like Durga Biryani as I find it too greasy and spicy.
I must try out Gaurav near Mandai as soon as possible. Is the mutton quality good?
Thanks for your feedback.
Happy Eating.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Dear Pratik:
I agree with you about Rashid Khan's Biryani - I have enjoyed it many times and indeed it is superb.
Somehow, I did not like Durga Biryani as I find it too greasy and spicy.
I must try out Gaurav near Mandai as soon as possible. Is the mutton quality good?
Thanks for your feedback.
Happy Eating.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Hi Omesh: Yes, George is good, especially the tikka biryani like the one Noorani in Mumbai serves.
I must try Nawab soon.

Unknown said...

I agree with you on this. We at are too scouring for home-chefs who prepare amazing pulao & biryanis. We found some & would love to send you samples from them. Do let us know if you like to check it and give feedback.

Nitesh Adep said...

Hi vikram, i agree that mummbai has good biryani joints, but let me tell you some good places around pune to have biryani. Durga Bhuvan(100 odd year's old), its in Mandai near to kaka halwai sweet mart, and you can try one at kothrud near sutar hospital, a small stall called lijjat biryani(02025388847) a family owned business where they serve pre ordered briyani in kgs.