City Food – Rishabh Bhai’s Veg Biryani, Anand Vihar
An unusual adaptation.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Over The Delhi Walla‘s many expeditions into Delhi drawing rooms, not an evening passes without having to witness yet another heated debate on the relative merits of Delhi biryani versus Lucknow biryani versus Hyderabad biryani. Depending on their cities of origins, the bigoted biryani intellectuals refuse to show any respect to the opinions of others. Actually, the only thing that brings them to some sort of agreement is the dependable Wikipedia when it declares that biryani’s prime ingredients are meat and rice.
This is why I shudder to confess to these biryani experts my growing fondness for something called vegetable biryani. These days, I often visit a new pavement stall — it came up just a month ago — under the Metro rail tracks in east Delhi’s Anand Vihar.
Shiv Shudhha Shakahari Veg Biryani serves rice with most unlikely biryani ingredients — peas, paneer, soya chops and cauliflower.
Rishabh Bhai, the cook and vendor, makes the dish at home in Indirapuram, and his offering has become so popular that it is over within three hours flat — a customer tells me.
The biryani is kept inside a huge cauldron, like biryanis usually are. On sliding off the lid a bit, I get the glimpse of a massive mound of steaming saffron-coloured rice encrusted with vegetables. The top surface is generously garnished with whole green chilies. The sight of soya chunks is particularly reassuring — they look like pieces one expects to see in any respectable mutton biryani. “There’s another layer of vegetables below,” explains Rishabh Bhai.
To biryani purists, the dish may look like film Sholay without the vicious Gabbar Singh. To the liberal minded, however, who cherish the ceaseless transfusions of influences into supposedly impenetrable territories, the vegetable biryani is yet another alternative way to enjoy the wonders of the world.
A radical approach to biryani