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.
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.
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!
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!
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.