Two New North Indian Delivery Joints Worth Adding To Your Phone Book
Two weeks ago, Bandra West was not among the 20 neighbourhoods in which month-old online biryani delivery service Charcoal Biryani operates. According to their website, Bandra Kurla Complex was the closest point of delivery from our Bandra West address. Determined to make lunch of their biryani, we supplied a convenient BKC address online and after multiple calls from their call centre and a quick drive to the area, we picked up our parcel. The biryani was worth the trouble. Thankfully ordering from them has become less arduous. They added Bandra West to their delivery range a few days after our hard-won lunch.
Mohammed Bhol and Mikhail Shahani, who were chefs at the erstwhile Two One Two Bar and Grill in Worli, are the pot stirrers as well as two of four partners at Charcoal Biryani. Their specialty is the coal-fired, slow-cooked Bohri biryani, which you don’t get to taste much outside Bohri homes. The Charcoal Biryani site lists six variants – two vegetarian, three chicken and one lamb – that are priced within the pocket-friendly tag of Rs250. In comparison, the year-old biryani delivery service Biryani 360 offers a limited selection of only vegetarian and chicken biryani at a pricier Rs360 per box.
A biryani’s appeal lies first in its aroma, and once you rip the seal off Charcoal Biryani’s neat boxes, a heady fragrance of basmati rice and tender, dum-cooked meat wafts out. Our top pick is their Afghani tikka biryani (Rs230) made up of creamy chicken tikka smothered under fluffy, mildly spiced rice with a sweet garnish of crunchy birista (onions that have been caramelised and fried). The lamb biryani (Rs250) was made heftier with potatoes. It was also smokier and more pungent than the chicken, but suffered slightly from extra salt.
We didn’t miss meat while scoffing spicy spoonfuls of the similarly smoked vegetable biryani (Rs210) that smacked of aromatic whole spices and had a more measured amount of salt. The paneer makhani biryani (Rs210), however, had an excess of pepper and garam masala, which only served to numb the palate.
Get: Afghani tikka biryani (Rs230), vegetable biryani (Rs210).
Skip: Paneer makhani biryani (Rs210)
The best part of road tripping in India, to us, is stopping to eat at dhabas. The ghee-soaked parathas, creamy dals and pints of lassi peddled at these wayside pit stops make the long hours on dusty highways endurable. We’ve been regulars at Oye Punjabi, a dhaba in Thane en route to Nashik, but when they launched a delivery service a fortnight ago – it operates in Bandra West, Bandra East, Santa Cruz and Khar – it made us wonder whether dhaba food would have the same appeal when eating it at home.
We discovered that it does and does not. In the case of Oye Punjabi, we’re thrilled that we now have easy access to their signature butter chicken biryani (Rs300) and rajma chawal (Rs250). The biryani is a generous portion of long-grained rice that absorbs the butter and masalas lavished on the succulent chicken makhani and strikes the perfect balance between fat and spices. The rajma, heavily flavoured with garlic, possessed the warmth of a Punjabi nani, albeit one with a liberal hand with oil and ghee.
The trouble with the food catered by the delivery kitchen is that it uses unforgivable amounts of oil. The grease forms a glossy pool over each dish and needs to be drained. It makes everything undeniably tasty, such as the mildly spiced and luscious dal makhani (Rs180) decorated with swirls of cream, and the khade masale ka gosht (Rs330), which is the very opposite of the dal – robust, pungent and not for the faint of palate. Skip the sarson ka saag (Rs260), which was distinctly bitter and accompanied by two thick and starchy makki ki rotis. We’re far more tolerant of this unchecked style of cooking on the road when all we have to do is pack into a car and sleep off the food coma. But on a regular day, when diets and work have to be considered, we can’t make a routine order of such unapologetically rich food.
Get: Butter chicken biryani (Rs300), rajma chawal (Rs250).
Skip: Sarson ka saag (Rs260).
This review was conducted anonymously. Open daily, from 11.30am to 3.30pm and from 7pm to 11.30pm. To place an order, call 70454 57071 or 70454 57072.