These are three of the GTA’s best biryani spots
The word biryani is said to have roots in ancient Persian cooking, where birian birinj means fried rice.
In food writer Meera Sodha’s acclaimed cookbook, “Made In India,” she proclaims “biryani is the maharaja of dishes and is believed to have been invited in the kitchen of Mughal emperors.”
Biryani is having a moment in the GTA right now. In the past four years we have seen a range of new regional-style Indian and Pakistani restaurants open up with their own style of the fried rice.
The layered rice dish comes in many variations, but the composition is simple.
A base, like sofrito is created, sometimes with tomatoes, onions and an assortment of spices. It can then be cooked with protein to create a gravy.
A generous amount of parboiled rice is then layered on.
Further toppings can include saffron water, butter, herbs. The pot is then sealed tight, traditionally dough is used to trap the steam from escaping. The pot is then cooked over embers, the lid is only removed when the dish is done.
The process as you can imagine is slightly different in restaurant kitchens, but the concept is the same.
Rice, protein, vegetables and spices are cooked in a pressured environment to infuse each grain to the fullest.
Here are three notable places doing biryani in the GTA:
Adrak Restaurant, 15 Wertheim Ct., Richmond Hill
My first visit to Adrak seven years ago was a revelation.
The prawn biryani arrived at the table in a small clay pot with the dough dome intact.
“We prefer to present it tableside because of the aromatics,” said sous chef Gokul Singh.
When the dome is cut open, steam billows out into the dining room, and spices follow in waves. There’s jeera, cardamom at first, followed by mace and cinnamon.
“During dinner service, the aroma is a repeating element throughout the room,” said Singh, who cooks each clay pot to order.
Rice is prepared ahead of time, it’s then sealed with the protein, covered with dough and cooked in a tandoor-like oven for just over a minute.
The protein is tender enough to succumb to the back of your spoon, and the spices are bold and bright.