Contributed by Guest Blogger YUMMDOOT
To read YUMMRAJ’s review, pls click here: Idris
In a nutshell:
A ‘must not miss’ Dum Biryani experience in Lucknow
Cuisine type: Nonvegetarian
Meal for 2: Rs. 100 onwards
Short Description – In case u r in a hurry:
My 5th visit to my in-laws’s place in Lucknow was very different than all the previous ones. Unlike in the past, I decided to go &savour the culinary surprises of Lucknow & I stumbled upon an unexpected partner – my father in law. His eyes lit as soon as I shared my plans & he offered to accompany me to a list of eateries I was carrying with me.
What surprised me wholly about eateries in lucknow was the fact that most of the places didn’t have even a rudimentary sign board. I mean one would expect those ‘lucknow ke mashhoor’ kind of stuff written but even that is not common here. But, yeah, everybody seems to know about these eateries, everybody loves them and so they authenticate/vouch for these as well.
We then headed to the chowk around 6.30 in the evening where our local kadardaan Mr Sayeed Khan was waiting for our company. He was a gentle soul with a ‘laheza’ tone so eminent in Lucknow . This man was Around 60’s & was one of my Father in law’s friend – he had a superb knowledge of the place and food since he has resided here for many many years.
The shop / shack of Idris ki Biryani is around 30-40 years old & can be termed as the latest hot-shot in the area of Top culinary excellence it Lucknow. The claim to fame is coverage in several electronic & print media.
The area at the entrance of the shop looked like an old shack with coal tandoor on one side and huge patilas with curry lying all around on the floor. It actually reminded me of makeshift kitchens that u see in Marriages.
The kebabs were being made literally on a huge griddle on an oven on the road –to be precise, on a coal pit dug out into the floor.
The eating area had around 4-5 tables which were jam-packed with people sitting on‘tea stall’ style benches. I noticed the floor below the eating area – it was jet black & even after looking at it for some time, I could not understand whether it was kutcha or pukka.
Everybody including my companions were eating biryani with their hands. I raised my hand & habitually asked for a spoon. Soon I realized that to enjoy the mutton biryani in to the core, one has to better leave the spoon and dive in with one’s hand.
Needless to say that the Biryani was made in the Traditional Lucknowi Dum system – slow cooking over a long period of time.
Detailed description – In case u have the time to njoy reading:
The Biryani had the flavor of Kewda & other spices. The subtle flavors were consistent starting from the rice to the meat. In other words, the flavors were not’ Screaming out their presence’ – instead they were ‘humming a gentle melody’. The Mutton pieces weretender and beats any chicken dish. Only the mutton at Afghan Delhi Restaurant in Lajpat Nagar was as soft. The Rice quality was excellent – long grain Basmati even though the Biryani itself was being sold so cheap.
The biryani wasway ahead of most so called Lucknowi biryanis in Delhi & the way flavours gently seeped through the mutton, I wud call this a ‘Dum ka Dum’.
The Biryani was served along with a Quarter plate of Shorba to make the biryani more ‘digestable’ & as expected , it was also good .
In hindsight I am amazed at my feat – It was scorching heat day of mid-June summer . I was sweating all over eating a piping hot biryani inside a restaurant with little ventilation – I literally felt like inside a tandoor .Yet I couldn’t care less . I was having the best biryani till the date .
After our stomach filled up, I went up to chat with the Owner . He told me that his father MuhmmadIdris started the shop around 40 Years back and he was the 2nd generation guy. With the skill that this guy has, he could have cashed up on it, shut down the shop & move to a bigger & better place selling expensive Biryani.But he was serving this delight at Rs 40 a plate – something that 5-Star Chefs would replicate for a price at least 10 times higher. This brave soul however is happy feeding the masses – Truely a ‘Social Business’ point of view I must say.
This feeling of positivity also runs it in his customers. Nobody was speaking as soon as the plates were served as everybody was busy internalizing, enjoying & registering the goodness of the taste of the food.
We had to share our table with this strange gentleman. While waiting for the food, I was browsing through the list of places I wanted to go to eat in Lucknow. As I was readin my list, this the guy sensed my situation &‘without even looking at me and continuing making eating noises’ recited the locations of all of these shops.
People just love the craft of food in this part of the world & respect its makers – The relationship between the customer & shop owner is just like some kind of a mutual mute relationship between a “ fankaar”(artist) and their ‘kadardaan’(admirer).
I can equate this with the lines from a (non poetic) translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Poem ‘the Broken Song’ – “The singer alone does not make a song, there has to be someone who hears”.
Good bye for today. Bon appetite & look forward to reviews of more Lucknow eateries in the next few weeks.