Friday, September 08, 2006

Berry Pulao

Berry Pulao in Pune
Vikram Karve

I’m feeling good. It’s four in the evening and I’ve just polished off a delicious Berry Pulao in Pune. Words cannot describe my state of supreme contentment and blissful non-alcoholic intoxication as I sit down to write this for you.

Berry Pulao in Pune? Not possible! There’s only one place in India where you get Berry Pulao and that’s Britannia Restaurant in Ballard Estate Mumbai. I read somewhere; Busybee, I think, who wrote – “If it’s Berry Pulao, it must be Britannia”.

That’s right. The Berry Pulao I relished just a few moments ago, was indeed from Britannia – my friend Sanjiv just drove down from Mumbai with a mutton berry pulao nicely packed in Britannia’s containers 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, read on.

The Mutton Berry Pulao looks good. A base of aromatic yellowish-orange basmati rice, topped with kababs, crisp reddish-brown strips of fried onions, fried cashew nuts, and, of course, the dark red berries. I start of with a tiny sweet and sour berry to stimulate my tongue and then pick out a kabab 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, but do full justice to my favorite pulao by eating it mindfully. “Mindful eating”: that’s the art of eating, with all your senses fully focused inwards to derive total epicurean pleasure.

The mutton, the kababs 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 kababs are nice and zesty. The basmati rice is fragrant and tasty. The cashew nuts crisp. And, of course, the sweetish taste of the fried onions combining with the sweet and sour tang of the berries. The berry pulao is indeed a heavenly medley of the choice ingredients, blending the symbiosis of tastes, fusion of flavors and bouquet of 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 bitterish 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”.

Dear reader. What are you waiting for? If you are in Mumbai, head for Britannia and have a hearty lunch. (It closes in the evenings, I think). When I was in Mumbai, I’ve had many a “working” lunches there as I worked nearby. Now I have to depend on friends likes Sanjiv to drop a berry pulao at my house on the way back from their frequent drives to Mumbai. And if you are not in Mumbai, you know where to go whenever you’re there. Till then keep reading this and enjoy this delectable dish vicariously in you mind’s eye.

Bye the way, can someone tell me the difference between a Biryani and a Pulao? Of course, I know the answer – just trying to cross-check!

Next, I’m going to write about my favorite Biryanis. Till then –
Happy Eating!


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