Trafficking in Biriyani

about Acres Club, Chembur, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400071, India

Ninety minutes of start-stop is not exactly geared to improve one’s tastebuds, so it is with some lack of joy (and food) that I approached the dinner party thrown by a very close friend of a very close friend (that, I’ve learned, is the most unavoidable kind – even the end of the universe would have to be considered). But finally it was sighted in the horizon – Acres Club, Chembur. The map below is not just here to compensate for the lack of photos – trust me, you’ll need it.


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Anyway, interminable brakes and gear changes later, suitably settled into the pleasant divans of the Indian Harvest Restaurant, pacified by a glass of excellent Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, I was in a more forgiving mood. The venue seemed nice, but call it my snooty-address snobbery – I still wasn’t expecting anything more than chicken-tikka-masala to appear. I just could not think of Chembur rising much above that.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the most delectable biriyani appeared. Apparently, this place – owned, managed and cooked for by Dadar Catering College alumni - is a bit of a culinary destination. The rich, flavourful mutton biriyani turned out to be genuinely unusual – Bhatkali style, inspired by the chef’s family cook (who was a Bhatkal Kayasth). With strong mint undertones (unusual in most other biriyani forms) this was indeed a distinct biriyani – closer to Malabar than Lucknow or Hyderabad, but different from both.

Bhatkal, it turns out, is a port town north of Mangalore with a long and distinguished history, and a long association with Arabs, Persians, Marathas and biriyani. Google even found me a restaurant in Bangalore that talks quite a about Bhatkali food and has a lot of these dishes on the menu.

The food at Indian Harvest is overall very good. I was served a pre-fixe menu so I’m not quite sure what all the dishes were, but the dessert is worth particular mention. Presented in martini glasses was a silky, milky rasmalai topped with paan ice cream! Not paan flavoured – the ingredients of an actual paan mixed into ice cream in-house – it blew me away.

Go, go, once in a while go see your distant cousins. It will be worth the trip…

3 comments:

  1. Hi Shanky love your blog and posts...i end up here via Nilesh's blog.

    Am a Chemburite and love food...and would walk the last mile for that one perfect morsel...if you had come all the way till Acres ... a few minutes from that place would have taken you to an amazing mess called Sindhi camp...Jhama's there would serve you one of the finest gulab jamun's one may sample, just adjoining that would get you super Kheema Mutton a typically sind-peshawari concoction and you could gorge on wonderful Kulfi faloodas once you are done with your Mutton pav...

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  2. Apparently the Chembur used to be the food capital of the suburbs a decade or so back. had the most number of restaurants or something. i remember reading it as I settled into Bandra and wondered where this Chembur place was :)

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  3. well very kind words shanky , i am glad that u enjoyed the dinner and the wine.
    you must let me know if u would like to surprise a few other foodie friends of yours ......

    swapan...

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