When white Pulao beat Biryani


Have you heard of an onion biriyani? No? I didn't think so. Or a tomato biriyani? You may have heard of (or done it yourself) a biriyani insulted as tomato rice, but tomato biriyani? Nope. While these are ingredients in any biriyani, you can't have a tomato biriyani. Or an onion biriyani.  Or a mirchi (chilly) biriyani? Chilly is a very important ingredient in the biriyani, so imagine my surprise when I saw the dish, Nimona Mirchi Pulao in the newly launched Biriyani and Pulao collection by ITC Hotels.

OK, so it isn't a biriyani, but a pulao. When I saw the menu of the Biriyani and Pulao collection and noticed that only the mutton biriyani was called the 'biriyani' and everything else was named pulao, I thought ITC did it to humour the purists! The ones for whom even chicken and prawn versions aren't biriyanis! No, I don't belong to that clan. Anyway, we are diverting from the topic. I'll come back to the biriyani/pulao debate in a bit.

For now, let's talk about our Mirchi Pulao. A few years ago, in Hyderabad, my friend took me to an Iranian cafe and got me biriyani. It was white. I looked at the plate, then looked at him and looked at the plate again and asked if this was a joke. White Biriyani? With a nasty expression, he asked me to taste it before passing any judgements. With no colour on the rice, the biriyani was among the best I've ever had. Till date, I can't explain how a biriyani could pack that much of flavour, but look so innocent. 

Another such day has arrived. When I served the white mirchi pulao to my family, little did I realise that within a few minutes kids would ask for water, but wouldn't stop eating it! It was then that I unearthed a large stuffed chilly from the box. A stuffed chilly biriyani that is white. Hides the spice and the flavours. 

That it matched (and nudged out) a very good Kolkatta style mutton biriyani sitting right next to it in a mutton biriyani loving household, was a surprise to us. We found ourselves gravitating to this white pulao and taking the mutton biriyani like a side as if to not hurt its feelings. Beyond a point, the kids couldn't handle the heat and the spice, but we adults found it hard to resist. With my curiosity peaking, I rang up a chef in ITC and asked what they did to it. ITC may sue me if reveal the whole thing, but let's just say that it was spiced peas stuffed inside the chilly. You buy one yourself and figure out what else is inside that chilly. I didn't even take a photo of this biriyani before eating, so I now I really need to order this again. 

Now back to the Biriyani vs Pulao argument, if you've wondered what really is the difference between the two without going very technical and without having to put it in words, try a biriyani and a pulao from here. The subtle differences will speak to you. These are not bland pulao versions, but really rich ones, but the subtle difference between the pulao and the biriyani is evident. Without saying a word.

When it comes to Indian food festivals, ITC hotels are hard to beat. But once in a while they outdo themselves. Like when they introduced the Sarai Gosht Biriyani a couple of year ago, this Nimona Mirchi Pulao is one such time. When the whole world is making plum cakes and yule logs and gingerbread houses for the season, besides doing all of that, ITC has created this Biriyani and Pulao collection for the takeaway market at almost half the price of the biriyani that is served in their restaurants. Perfect to throw year end parties if you're not exactly a fan of the plum cakes! Available on Swiggy, Zomato, Eazy Diner and ITC's own app priced between 625 and 825, they come from some of the best kitchens in the country. In Chennai, it comes out of the ITC Grand Chola's kitchen. So if you've thought why pay for the AC and parking and grandeur, now you're pretty much paying only for the food. And the research! Oh and one more thing.

While it is called the Biriyani and Pulao Collection, don't be surprised if the gulab jamun wins your heart. It is complementary and after all the fuss is over, with no competition left, it breaks your heart all over again, as if to say, Biriyani is not the only hero here.  I had to fight to keep my share. OK I confess, others had to fight to keep their share after I finished mine first. I tried a straight face when asking if I can eat the 'simple' jamuns, but clearly I'm not winning any poker tournaments with these skills! Need to check how to buy 1 ton of this gulab jamun now. 


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Grub Waz: When white Pulao beat Biryani
When white Pulao beat Biryani
Grub Waz
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