Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Indian Food and Grocery, Irving TX

It's been sometime since I posted.  Sorry for my delay, as my offline life has been busy.  My latest Biryani experience has been from Indian Food and Grocery in Irving, TX.  It's actually next to Hot N Spicy from my last  posting, actually in the same complex!  Indian Food and Grocery is a small grocery/cafe situated off O'Connor and 183 in Irving, TX.  It's a family owned store that's been in town for over 10 years.  The folks  who own it come from Bangladesh.  The grocery store part, has some basic items and is not very extensive.  It's seems that the main attraction is the cafe restaurant portion.  The have your standard South Asian selections ranging from Samosas to all the normal entrees you'd find at a small Indo-Pak type place.  Kabob rolls, stuffed meat pastries, grilled meats, heavy oiled curries, etc.  Of course as you all know I am only interested in the Biryani.  I went ahead and ordered the Chicken Biryani.  I arrived there around 11ish just before busy lunch, in hopes to get a fresh batch of Biryani.  He said the Goat was not ready but the chicken was.  This made me assume that his biryanis are of the pakki kind.  This is where the meats and the rice are prepared separately rather than together.

The first thing I noticed was that I got a lot of biryani.  It was like a mountain of rice!  Though it was more than I could eat in one sitting, the presentation was nice.  Nice color with fresh caramelized onions and cilantro as a garnish, good aroma of spices, warm steam coming off the top to tell me it was fresh, gave me a good first impression.  As I took my first bites, the rice was fresh and hot and full of flavor...a good start.  It was still a little on the moist side but understandably so since it was fresh from the pot.  The rice could have been a little fluffier and less moist.  It's a tough call but I am going to give it a 3 out of 5.

I was very happy with the amount of chicken that was hiding under all that rice.  I had to count at least 4 to 5 pieces of chicken.  Couple of drumsticks, couple of thighs and a white meat portion as well.  This was definitely something that could have been shared.  The chicken was moist and juicy.  Since it had just been prepared, the flavors were all very rich and aromatic.  As well it as a little on the spicy side, which I prefer.  The masala the chicken was cooked with complimented the biryani rice nicely.  Due to the healthy amount of chicken I pretty much was able to eat a bite of chicken with every spoon of rice which made the overall experience much more enjoyable.

white meat portion

The chicken was tender with more than enough portions and well cooked. After trying the chicken biryani, I am looking forward to coming back to try the goat biryani as well.  I would rate the chicken 4 out of 5.  I ended up only being able to put down about half of the order.  I had to take the rest back and had it the next day for lunch.  I have to say even after a day old, it was still tasty with a lot of flavor.

I am going to give an overall rating of Indian Food and Grocery's Chicken Biryani a 3.5 out of 5.  I would come back and eat here again.  It's a good solid slightly above average Biryani.  It would be interesting to see how it would be later in the afternoon.  I will most surely be coming back to try the goat biryani as well.

I know this was a short one since I only had one type of Biryani to sample.  Keep your comments coming.  I appreciate your feedback and look forward to your opinions on the same places as well as new recommendations.  'Til next time.  -Seeker

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hot N Spicy Restaurant, Irving TX

So I'm finally posting my first review.  A few friends and I checked out Hot N Spicy restaurant in Irving, TX.  This joint is situated right next to a large Indian grocery store owned by the same owner.  They have a vegetarian restaurant in the grocery store and the Hot N Spicy restaurant is there non-veg version.  This place is like your typical small hole-in-the-wall joint.  No more than 8-10 tables, with a limited menu but cover all the Indo-Pak basics.  We tried out 3 Biryanis at this place.  The chicken, boneless chicken, and goat biryanis.  They also had egg, and shrimp biryanis.  Whenever I see that many varieties I get a little leary.  Usually that means it's all the same rice and then they throw in the other ingredients.  This seemed to be the case with all of our selections.
Chicken Biryani

Boneless Chicken
Goat Biryani
As you can see it is difficult to tell which is which, but that is usually the case.  The meat is usually at the bottom.  The top pic is of the Chicken Biryani, and the middle one is of the boneless chicken biryani and the bottom is the goat biryani.

The Rice
As is usually the case with restaurants like these, it seems like these guys are making pakki biryanis(see earlier post).  The rice for all three dishes was pretty much the same.  Since we ate at about 8:30-9:00pm the rice was lukewarm at best.  So I'm sure it had been cooked and ready for several hours.  in fact considering how a couple of us felt the next day (bloated), I wouldn't be surprised if this rice is even more than a day old.  It just didn't taste fresh.  It would have been nicer if the rice were warmer and had some bit of steam coming off the top just for the effect and first bites.  The flavor was a bit mild (possibly due to it not being fresh) for me and one other in the group but the rest felt it was pretty good.  I think there was a little too much black pepper or something that had that same taste.  Slighty overshadowed the other flavors.  The fresh onions and cilantro were a nice touch and always add a crisp dimension to the dish.  Another thing I liked it was that it was not too oily.  Sometimes they can over do it on the ghee or oil.  The rice texture was light and fluffy.  A few parts were clumpy but that's ok considering it's made in large quantities.  Color was nice and yellow interspersed with some red grains and white grains which is pretty much what you are used to seeing with "Hyderbadi" style biryani.  Overall would give the rice around a 2.5 out 5.

Chicken Biryani

I have to say the meats overall were cooked well.  With biryanis, the meats are usually not heavily spiced and are slow cooked so that they are tender and fall off the bone easily.  As well the juices and fat are supposed to flavor the whole dish.  The chicken with bone was tender and juicy and easily fell off the bone with minimal urging.  As you can see, the meat was slightly pink on the inside which is ok with the dark meat of chicken.  It was mildly spiced and blended well with the composition of dish.  The amount of chicken I felt was one piece less than they should have given, but isn't that always the case? haha. They also provide the curry masala in a cup with which the chicken was cooked in to add to the flavor of the dish.  You can also add some raita (runny yogurt with cumcumbers, tomatoes, and spices) for added flavor and also to tame the heat if it's too much.  Some places add chili to the yogurt as well.
curry masala for chicken biryani
The boneless chicken biryani was basically chicken tikka, small boneless pieces of white meat chicken grilled in a tikka masala sauce.  I was hoping for actual boneless dark meat chicken which I think would have been much better.  The white meat chicken did not blend well with the overall composition of the dish but was like just putting pieces of chicken onto an already made dish.  The tikka sauce was much more red with more of a tomato base than the other curry masalas.
tikka masala sauce for boneless chicken biryani
Overall for the chicken in the biryani I would rate about 3 out of 5.  Boneless chicken 2 out of 5 simply because I would have liked to see boneless dark meat and not chicken tikka pieces.

Goat Biryani
goat meat
The goat meat I thought was cooked well too.  It, like the chicken was tender and fell of the bone easily.  It is difficult to cook goat because it can be a tough meat depending on the age of the goat cooked.  This tasted like young goat because of the softness of the meat.  I have been to places where the goat is chewy and tough and that means either they did not cook the goat long enough (several hours) or that the it was an older goat.  It tasted like they had simmered the meat in the same blend of spices as the chicken, which for this place was fine.  It was at least consistent.  I felt of the three dishes we tried I enjoyed the goat most because I felt the flavor of the goat meat itself blended better with the composition of the rice and the spices used to cook it.  The richer flavor of the meat complimented the overall dishes better than the chicken varieties.  I would rate the goat 4 out of 5.


Hot N Spicy of Irving is a great place to be introduced to biryani because the blend of spices are not too overpowering and they do a good job with the cooking of the meats.  Though it is not a kachi biryani, they do a good job of giving it that feel.  I would recommend this place for anyone who wants to try out biryani for the first time and to seasoned lovers as well for an good average biryani.  

Rice 2.5 out of 5 - could have been warmer and fresher (seemed like it was over a day old)
Chicken (with bone) - 3 out 5 - could have been spicier but still good flavor
Boneless chicken - 2 out of 5 - wished it were dark meat and not tikka peices
Goat - 4 out of 5 - good, though could have been warmer
Overall Rating - 2.8 out of 5

This was great first experience for reviewing biryani.  Good friends, and good food.  Thanks to the peeps who came out!

The Seeker

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Excerpt from the Book "The Marriage Bureau for Rich People" by Farhad Zama

"The menu at  South Indian Muslim wedding feast is always the same - mutton biryani, brinjal, and bottle-gourd side dish as a sauce, and a coconut and onion raita.  Long after everything else is forgotten and the bride has become  a matron with grown-up children, the biryani will still be remembered and used to grade the quality of the wedding celebration."

Types of Biryani - Kachi vs. Pakki

There are basically two major types of Biryani.  One is Pakki (pronounced pukee, with a short u) Biryani and the other is Kachi(pronounced kuchee with a short u) Biryani.  Pakki Biryani is where the rice and the meat are cooked separately and then brought together moments before being served.  In the Biryani chef realm this is the "easy way out."  If one really wants to test their skills at cooking and be highly regarded among their fellow peers, then creating the perfect Kachi Biryani is the route to go.  This is no simple undertaking.  Yours truly tried making a Kachi Biryani and failed miserably.  Kachi Biryani is where the meat and riced are cooked together in the same pot.  This is a delicate process since rice can be easily overcooked and meat can be severely burned.  For now I have been sticking to Paki Biryani, but I promise, the day I create a halfway decent Kachi Biryani I will post that experience.  Please share how your's turned out?

Welcome to the Biryani Blog

Welcome to The Biryani Blog.  I created this space for lovers and fanatics of Biryani.  It is also a blog for those who are new explorers to South Asian cuisine specifically curious about the world of Biryani.  Living in the South (USA) we have a surprising number of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi joints that make a numerous variety of Biryani.  Being a connoisseur of sorts of this delightfully savory and complex dish, I thought it high time I share my love of this comfort food.

For those who may not know, biryani is a beautifully spiced rice dish.  It is prepared with slow cooked spiced meat (typically, mutton, lamb, or chicken), with a plethora of exotic spices, then covered with partially cooked rice, spiced again and then steam cooked under a covered pot.  The result is a perfectly composed mouthwatering plate of art.  You have your payeas, pilafs, fried rices, rice bowls, medleys, but nothing can compare in succulence, flavor, aroma, and sheer beauty of the Biryani.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of Biryani is as follows: Biryani, biriani, or beriani(Nastaliq script: بریانی) is a set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word beryā(n)بریان) which means "fried" or "roasted".[1] Biryani was brought to the Indian Subcontinent by Muslim travelers and merchants.[citation needed] Local variants of this dish are not only popular in South Asia but also in Arabia and within various South Asian communities in Western countries.

This blog will explore the tradition of Biryani.  I will sample various restaurants' original creations, individual recipes, fusions, and anything else related to the art of creating, eating, and fully indulging the world of Biryani.  I hope you enjoy and please feel free to comment or contribute.