My Arsalan Tryout

Posted: March 20, 2011 in Diary at Dawn
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Let’s call me a freak when it comes to food. Whenever I dine out, I try to savor the best of the place. So, I can claim that I’ve eaten and known what’s good in this part of the world.

Biryani is my first choice, if it comes to Indian/Mughal. I do not really need any side dish to go along; saves money, eh! I believe not everyone can prepare a biryani. It takes immense endurance, experience and expertise to make the dish as good as it can be. I’ve been to Kareem’s at New Delhi and Paradise at Hyd, reason being they are best at what they do. After tasting their biryani I’m certain that I’ll settle for no less. I’ve tasted various styles of preparations from Mumbai, Cuttack and Lucknow. After all the experiences for my favorite food, I’ve learnt and taken for granted that a biryani dish should accompany ‘kachumbar‘ (a spicy chopped salad made with onions, cucumbers and churned light curd). That’s what expect at least in Kolkata.

My friends cum accomplices here, constantly bugged me about how the biryani in Kolkata has an authenticity that’s originally prepared the way it is meant to be. They recommended me half a dozen places, which are perceived by them as a place whatever they mean by that. Each place I went following their recommendation, was  no less than an experience of numbness to me. I came back, raved and was told that the next place in my list was better. After trying out all the places, my last option was Arsalan.

Let me tell my folk readers, why I’m so cynical here in Kolkata. To me a biryani is good, if it’s accompanied by a curd side dish, the spices among the rice are indistinguishable to my eyes but to my taste buds.  The rice should be long and narrow with an aroma and properly cooked, the meat should be soft and delicious but prepared without an intention of making it an eye-gazer. Apart from these the biryani should contain nothing more. None, nihil, nada! In Kolkata, no matter what you order, you will get an boiled egg (what the @#$%^*) and a piece of half a ton potato meant for probable monsters. If I ask the server, where is the Kachumbar or raita, he would scratch his head and ask me numerous questions about what the hell was that about. The people surrounding eating look at my face as if I’ve escaped Uranus and demanding to see the 5th female president of India. After many many embarrassment episodes I refrained and controlled myself from asking such irrelevant questions. So I’m basically a heavy critic when it comes to my favorite dishes and a jacka$$. Got it now?

I had no intention of going to Arsalan which is miles away. After my previous dining combats, I was obviously skeptic. But that day I stumbled across the restaurant because I was in the area. I was famished and dived in. It took me a couple of minutes to realize that I in fact have arrived at the place they have been talking about- ARSALAN! I couldn’t care less for the absence of menu at my table, biryani it is.

The place was literally filled with hungry people. But my order was delivered fast. There were around ten attendants to service you. After 10 minutes of gestation period of my order, the chicken biryani arrived. I knew previously that it comes with a potato at least and without curd side dishes. I pretended to exclude those things from my desires. The rice was nice, warm and tasty. It heeded my taste buds for the recognizable absence of the cardamoms or almonds or mint leaves. Thank god it came without an egg! The whole plate had great smell and I had even a greater appetite. The chicken was cooked edged to a perfection and was thoroughly soft. The flavor of the chicken was…I can’t find a right word..just say wow.

After it was finished I felt like never before in Kolkata. I finally had a hearty meal after a long time. I’d like to recommend it to anyone who’s into biryani to take a spoon. If you ever been in Kolkata, Arsalan is definitely the best bet for your favorite mughal meal.

On holidays, the place is swarmed with foodies. One might have to wait in long queue to get in. Other days, it’s still crowded but less.

Although far from my place, I’ll be always hungry to experience once more at ARSALAN. Till then I’ve to develop my appetite for every otherthing there to go with biryani. 4 stars!!

  1. Tanmay says:

    Great post! Ah, I’m so hungry right now! BTW, WTF is up with the bongs giving potatoes in Biryani? I mean, seriously, WTF? YOu get eggs even here in Hyd, but they always hgive you raita and gravy. And here you can, for Rs.60 have a biryani that you’ll struggle to finish.

    • askarvind says:

      Well, the quantity is good here. But it comes at a COST. A cost of taste and even cost lesser for an absence of curd dishes. It’s the tradition here. If the server doesn’t give a potato, the person to eat utters words as if the server has done a blunder. No matter how the biryani is made, how good the taste is, the taste for a taste here is different. The meat should be a sizable to the eyes and there MUST be half a ton or more big potato. Put some god-knows-what gravy and voila!
      You must be getting me what I’m sayin.

  2. TULKA NANDY says:

    I agreed to all your line of reasoning except one thing that is the ambiance and service of ARSALAN as i didn’t experienced it but i had the “Biriyani” of it at my hostel with my room mates.
    The “Biriyani” was “WOWWW”

  3. avto-ru says:

    Thanks, it’s usefully for me.

  4. olya says:

    Interesting thinking…

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  6. Pragyan Mohanty says:

    Biriyani in Kolkata (or in the whole of Bengal) is cooked in Awadhi Style. As such, they don’t have the style of their own. As mentioned in history, the Mughal ruler from Awadh fled from Awadh to Bengal but he did not came alone. He also brought his already-famous and favorite cook with him. Since, they could not afford meat then…. they used potatoes as a substitute. That came out as a custom in their style of Biriyani preparations… which we see even today!

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