<%-- Page Title--%> Musings <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 136 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 2, 2004

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Mouth-watering Magic

Kajalie Shehreen Islam

More than the fashion, glamour and social chatter -- and sometimes even more than the bride and groom -- what draws many of us to weddings, especially during this major matrimonial season, is the biriyani. This simple word is bound to make the mouths of at least a third of my readers water. I, for one, know that as I pen this, the writer in me tries to conjure up seductive biriyani scenes in my head while the humble human struggles to write her best without such devastating distractions, for I know that one of my crazy cravings at this hour of night can hardly be fulfilled.

It's one of the things we miss most while living abroad as well as when our cook at home is less than satisfactory. It's the most delectable picture of a rice-and-meat concoction -- the perfect result of just the right amounts of the two along with the spices, potatoes and the all-important alu-bukhara.

I don't know when I became such a fan of it. I can only think back to days when "kachchi" was a favourite word in my family, especially before any promising wedding or dinner invitation. I wasn't quite clear about it then. But, somehow unnoticed and over the years, I too have become a lover of the delicacy, getting sudden cravings just like my nani and my khala. I am even learning to distinguish the better kinds from the not-so-great ones. Now I share my father's disappointment when the rice is too dry or the meat isn't juicy enough or the pieces large enough or just enough! I too can't wait to get my hands on it as soon as the dish is on my table or even when taking in the luscious aroma while driving down the road where the famous Fakhruddin's or some other biriyani house is located. And I gleefully glow when, right when I'm experiencing a burning desire for it, my mother walks in with a box, answering my unspoken -- and sometimes rather loud -- prayers!

In all the countries I've been to and all the restaurants I've tried, there has never been any biriyani close to what we have right here at home. Mmm . . . Depending on how good it is, the accompanying kebab, curry, or even chicken "roast" often go untouched. Sometimes, really good, juicy, delicious biriyani can be spread over many meals, each time the craving again arises. So much so that leftover biriyani from a big wedding can be enjoyed almost as much many months after the big day! Just as well, because biriyani is one thing that you feel you've had just about enough of after indulging 'whole-tummiedly' one day, but right the next day the longing again churns its head inside the stomach and thank God then that so-and-so insisted on shoving (without much genuine resistance) two containers full into the car after the party!

However, after attending a combination of at least ten panchinis, gaye holuds, biyes and bou bhaats this season (much more make-up than the face can take), hopefully the desire to have biriyani yet again will lie dormant for at least a while. But then, just when you thought you could take no more . . . "Hopefully" is the key word -- for the tummy, the figure and the duelling monsters Craving and Willpower.




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