Because of the fact that Pune has a sizeable Parsi as well as Biryani population, Pune also has a lot of really nice Biryani places. When one thinks of biryani in Pune, a couple of places pop up immediately – Dorabjee’s, Blue Nile, George just to name a few. This post is my take on them.
In the 70’s when my dad was posted at Pune, A couple of joints were his favourites. Dorabjee’s was on the top of that list for Biryani. We finally located the place after endless searching around in tiny by-lanes & twisty one-ways of Old Pune, but the food is well worth the effort.
This tiny, rundown little Iranian restaurant hasn’t changed one bit (or so it seems) in the last 20 or so years, neither in looks nor (thankfully) in taste. The menu is limited to ‘Today’s Specials’. Don’t expect top-of-the-line-extraordinaire-service, cause what you get is a no-frills service attitude – quick and simple. Almost as though everyone wants to cut to the chase, and get to the biryani asap !
They do have some other mutton and chicken dishes to choose from but unfortunately there is nothing much to eat for the vegans. We had the mutton biryani (Rs 100) which was had the typical parsi taste (not to confuse it with the Hyderabadi or Lucknawi biryani).
Although, there are 100s of variation of biryani there are 3 major types – Lucknawi (Lucknow), Hyderabadi & Iranian. What is usually passed of as Biryani in most places in India is actually Pulao. And there is a big difference between Biryani and Pulao, which most people don’t bother with.
Lucknawi Biryani is the more colourful one with the meat and rice cooked separately. Then layered as plain white rice –fried meat – masala rice – fried meat – Saffron rice. It is seasoned with dry-fruits and is not very spicy.
Hyderabadi Biryani – The meat is not fried but marinated in a paste of yogurt and spices, the layering is done with just masala rice. Neither meat nor rice is cooked prior to being layered in the Handi. This is the spiciest version of the biryani.
Iranian Biryani – Rice is separately cooked with some butter & few spices, the meat is served on top of the rice. Something like chelo kebabs, another awesome Parsi rice preparation.
In a pulao, the stock of meat forms the base and the rice is cooked with the spices so that it absorbs the flavor of the spices. There is no layering involved and the Dum technique is also not used . The Parsi Biryani is more of a pulao.
Blue Nile is another parsi place famous for biryani. I have to admit, though, I’m not a big fan of Blue Nile’s Biryani and like the other dishes more; the Iranian chicken biryani (Rs 130) is quite dry and a little bland.
They have (unfortunately) diversified into Chinese and other stuff, but the best bet are the kababs and tandoori chicken. The place smells good and the aroma of the kababs is intoxicating, and I’m sure one day I solve the mystery of what tastes as good as it smells. The one thing that you must have here is the Caramel Custard.
Both Dorabjee’s & Blue Nile are more famous because they are old, and not so much for the food. I did enjoy the experience at both the places but they didn’t come up to my expectations. After all, when you hear about the place from so may people you do expect awesome food.
George on the other hand is famous for being old & the food. I’m a bit finicky about cleanliness and only do ‘take-away’ from here. But both my brother and husband love this place. Not only is their biryani good but the other stuff like naans and kadhai chicken are also yummy. The pan shop outside the joint is more famous than the restaurant so do indulge in a meetha pan.
Now, how can I not mention ‘Khan Bhai’, while talking about Pune Biryani. ‘Khan Bhai’ is not a restaurant. To taste this wonderful stuff one has to do a bit of hard work. Start with waking up early (to ‘book’ the biryani of course), its only sold in KG’s (abt Rs 400/kg) – one Kg is enough for 7-8 ppl, by 1pm you have to drive down to Shivaji Market area to collect it and return back to deliver the empty utensils the next day. Phew!! That’s a lot of work but trust me, it is well worth it. How do i know ? Khan Bhai’s biryani excels in the 3 biryani test – 1. The aroma test 2. The separate grain of rice test and 3. The taste Test.
Contact me to get the number for the most Fantabulous Biryani in Pune ;).