In a NUtshell
A delivery pop by soul food that that went horribly wrong.
Address & other details: hello panda
Meal for 2: ₹675 onwards
Cuisine type : vegetarian & non vegetarian
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I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
That was a slide straight from Mount Everest to the bottom of the sea – the pork biryani from hello panda specially created by chef vikramjit roy turned out to be exactly opposite our earlier outstanding experience from hello panda.
It all started with a message by hello panda that read ‘SOUL FOOD MENU reimagined Vikramjit Roy’. It read ‘inspired by calcutta style biryani & the avid global gourmand mr Bobby ghosh’ etc etc…..
The message asked us to WhatsApp the order & pay upfront (like all pop up orders). We were offered a time slot of 3.30 without asking us. I said ‘it’s too late for lunch & too early for dinner. Can we have a slot around 12.30-1. We were granted that slot.
A home reheated biryani almost never tastes as good (few exceptional people can get it right), gets dry & hard. so I was surprised at the fact that they were offering at strange timings. Anyway, I told myself that it might be an error & must be overlooked.
The biryani arrived in a cloth bag branded hello panda. It came atta sealed in a earthen pot. Along with it was an earthen oven & a candle – to put it on perpetual heat I guess. Good ‘sho sha’ I wud say as that wud surely spoil the bottom of the biryani & make it dry.
Along with the biryani we got hand sanitizer sachets, wooden cutlery, a rezala gravy, a raita & onions & chillies.
For the uninitiated, rezala is a type of meat gravy that was made famous by a restaurant in kolkata named Sabir. The rezala gravy was good to taste, flavorful & nice. Not sure what it was doing with the biryani but it was very good to taste. It was not the real rezala as well but a good tasting gravy. Rate it 4.25/5.
The raita was good as well. I cud get flavors of mint leaves in addition to coriander leaves. Rate it 3.5/5.
The biryani – here is where hell broke loose. It was nowhere close to SOUL FOOD. I am not sure what was reimagined by chef Vikramjit Roy – even if it was reimagined great in concept, it was the worst of execution, in fact it was ‘execution’ of the concept of ‘biryani’. The Advertisement read ‘inspired by calcutta style biryani & the avid global gourmand mr Bobby ghosh’ – Nowhere close to kolkata biryani. It was an insult to Kolkata biryani. I am in shock.
In Calcutta style biryani , rice is the king. Soft, independent grains of aromatic long rice that almost melt in the mouth. The biryani guys in kolkata do it so effortlessly & so consistently good, never have I ever got the rice Wrong in a good restaurant. The rice of the hello panda biryani was suboptimally cooked. It was on the borderline of being raw. You can see the picture & it is visible.
The flavors were nothing much as it is. Salt in the rice was suboptimal. With the dry gravy that stuck to the meat, the salt levels became ok. Rezala reduced the dryness. Worst biryani rice in my whole life. Rate it 0/5.
The meat was phenomenal. Better than the best Indian pork I have tasted this year. Super soft, flavorful, robust taste & just the right fat to meat ratio. Rate the pork 4.75/5.
The potato of the biryani was dry & sad. It did not have much of a taste urself, unlike the lovely alu of kolkata biryani. Rate it 2/5.
The boiled egg was a basic poultry egg. Yes the ₹100 biryanis of kolkata use this egg but for a ₹670 biryani I don’t think it’s unfair to expect a decent farm raised egg (like keggs etc) that at least tastes good. Rate the biryani egg 2/5
I find way more value for money in the Dum pukht biryani that’s priced at around ₹1800.
Overall rating of biryani averages out to 2.44/5 – worst in my lifetime (repeating). U might wonder how it is possible. Yes. It’s possible Coz I order biryani only when I have heard from people I know that a shop/restaurant makes good biryani. So I leave aside most average to bad ones. We ordered this hearing the brand ‘Vikramjit roy’. That brand in my mind, is now a question mark, for non Asian food.
Not a single spoon of this biryani was worth the calories it gave me. Idris bhai’s biryani or dum pukht biryani is worth every calorie intake.
Well, a holiday lunch wasted. Even though the popcorn & drinks (add ons to the biryani) were good, the movie was bad.
4 thoughts on “SOUL FOOD delivery pop up (hello panda gurugram)”
🙂 always attempt at speaking my mind
Disappointed that the restro served you under-par Kolkata biryani. Please do take it up with them. Maybe you should stick to the standard mutton rather than the exotic pork biryani. Truth be told, you would never get pork biryani anywhere in Calcutta.
Some facts about the Rezala from Sabir, all sourced from the net:
1. In around 1940, Sabir Ali came to Kolkata from Lucknow and started working as support stuff at Titagarh. The man must’ve been a great business mind because from being a helping hand to opening a restaurant in 1948 is no mean feat
2. The origin of Rezala is a bit unclear. The folklore goes like this. The work Rezala has come from a word “Raazil”- which means people from a lower income group. during the Mughal dynasty, this used to be the staple for managers and workers. Raazil > Raaazila > Rezala. Now here comes the twist. Home chefs started using deseeded-green-chilly-infused-milk for cooking and thus came the color. Apart from meat Rezala, gradually Fish Reala started gaining popularity in high society and the dish got its due popularity.
3. But then there goes another story. When nawabs of Audh and descendants of Tipu Sultan were exiled in Kolkata, they brought their royal cooks along. These cooks gave the Islamic touch to the Bengal cuisine with variety of spices and Kewra water. In fact probably the art of marinating meat with yoghurt was introduced by those cooks and Masalchis. And with them, Rezala was created.
Thanks so much, for this detailed note. Very informative. Thanks once again.