Saturday, September 15, 2012



Last night my son told me that he was driving down from Pune to Mumbai for a day’s work.

“Where are you going?” I asked him.

“I’m coming,” I said.

“Okay,” he said, “but you’ll have to spend a few hours by yourself.”

So we started from Pune in the morning, and after a few stops, we and reached Ballard Estate around noon. My son went for his work and I headed to Britannia and Company for my lunch – to relish a plate of my favorite Berry Pulao.  

There’s only one place in India where you get the inimitable unique matchless Berry Pulao and that’s Britannia Restaurant in Ballard Estate Mumbai.

I read somewhere (I think it was Busybee who long time ago wrote in his foodie column in the Evening News of India – If it’s Berry Pulao, it must be Britannia.

The Evening News tabloid hasdisappeared long back but Britannia’s Berry Pulao is still going strong.

Britannia is a quaint restaurant. It is the same as it as so many years ago as if time stood still– the table-cloths with gingham checks with a glass on top and the menu card below the glass (one for each chair) with the restaurant’s motto written on top: There is no greater love than the love of eating

Dear fellow Foodie – if you’ve eaten and relished Berry Pulao at Britannia, my words will not be adequate to describe the unique gastronomic experience you’ve had. 

If you haven’t ever eaten Berry Pulao at Britannia, read on - I will try my best to describe the delicious experience of eating Berry Pulao to you.

The Mutton Berry Pulao looks good. 

A base of aromatic yellowish-orange basmati rice, topped with kebabs, crisp reddish-brown strips of fried onions, fried cashew nuts, and, of course, the dark red berries

I start off with a tiny sweet and sour berry to stimulate my tongue and then pick out a kebab from the top layer of the pulao, pop it on my tongue, close mouth and my eyes, press the soft meat between my tongue and palate, roll it, let it disintegrate and savor the heavenly flavor.

My appetite whetted, I feel so ravenous, that I just can’t wait to devour the delicacy in front of me.

But I am not going to “devour” the pulao greedily. I am going to do full justice to my favorite pulao by eating it mindfully, with full awareness.

“Mindful eating” – that is the true art of eating, with all your senses fully focused inwards to derive total epicurean pleasure.

The mutton, the kebabs as well as the generous chunks of well marinated and superbly cooked pieces of prime meat, is boneless.

The mouthwatering succulent pieces of mutton, substantial in size, are soft and tender, and taste delicious and satisfying.

The soft spicy kebabs are nice and zesty. The basmati rice is fragrant and tasty. The cashew nuts crisp. The ultimate delight is the sweetish taste of the fried onions with a hint of umami taste from the sweet and sour tang of the berries.

The berry pulao is indeed a heavenly medley of the choice ingredients, blending the fusion and symbiosis of tastes, flavors and fragrances.

In its entirety, relishing a Berry Pulao is a matchless epicurean experience.

Many a greasy and spicy “Biryanis” and “Pulaos” leave you feeling heavy, acidic in the stomach, hot and pungent in your throat and with a tartish feeling on your tongue.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

The proof of a pulao or biryani is in its aftertaste. 

It’s that lovely wispy aftertaste that makes Berry Pulao my favorite. 

Maybe that’s the secret of the “berries”.

As accompaniment I have a bottle of Roger’s inimitable Rasberry Soft Drink and I end my meal with a Caramel Custard Dessert.  

I remember those glorius Mumbai days, when I have savored so many a “working” lunches of Berry Pulao at Britannia since I worked nearby. 

Now I have to go all the way to Mumbai to enjoy a Berry Pulao. Yes, if you want to eat Berry Pulao you'll have to go to Britannia and Company in Ballard Estate Mumbai

Till then the only thing you can do is to enjoy this delectable dish vicariously in your mind’s eye.

If you ask me which is my favorite Biryani in Mumbai – well there are so many good Biryanis in Mumbai – Olympia, Delhi Durbar, Shalimar, Baghdadi, Lucky, and so many more. Yes, there is plenty to choose from as far as Biryani is concerned.

But if you ask me which my favorite Pulao is – there is a clear winner – there is no doubt about it – it is my all time favorite Britannia Berry Pulao.

By the way, can someone tell me the difference between a Biryani and a Pulao?

Of course, I know the answer. I am just trying to cross-check!

If you don't know the answer, if you don’t know the difference between and Biryani and Pulao, you just go down to your nearest “authentic” eatery, order one plate of biryani and also order one plate of pulao, then taste and test, compare and contrast, and find out the difference between a Biryani and Pulao for yourself.

Till then, dear fellow foodie, Happy Eating.

(And if you live in Mumbai, what are you waiting for – just head for Britannia and eat a Berry Pulao)

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, IIT (BHU) 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 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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