When it comes to Biryani, only 5 varieties linger on my tastebuds- the Kolkata style, the Lucknow style, the Malabar, the Awadhi and the Hyderabad style. However, a trip to Paris 2 years ago, introduced me to a whole new style of biryani called the Dindigul Biryani , which is a Tamil style of Biryani.
Dindigul is a small district in the state of Tamil Nadu and their style of Biryani is unlike what I have ever come across. What makes this particular style of biryani different from the rest is the usage of a different kind of rice called Seeraga Samba, along with it being a little high on the spice quotient and using both red and green chilies in its preparation. The best way to identify the authenticity of the Dindigul Biryani is to taste a spoonful of the biryani rice first before moving on to the meat.
Why only Seeraga Samba rice to be used you ask?
Because this particular type of rice used absorbs the flavors of the biryani in its entirety. This rice, unlike basmati, has no particular taste of its own, so it completely absorbs the flavor of the spices, and each grain of rice is uniformly marinated in the masalas. Since the meat added to the biryani is always more than the quantity of rice, the Seeraga Samba soaks in the taste of all the spices and flavors of the meat as well. Interestingly this style of biryani sees the usage of small pieces of mutton instead of the larger pieces we are used to.
The biryani is always slow-cooked over firewood. Once the rice is semi-cooked, it is transferred to the dum, hot coal is placed on the lid of the vessel so that heat spreads evenly on all sides; the meat inside becomes melting soft and succulent and the grains of rice stay separate. What also distinguishes Dindigul biryani from others, is the quality of water used in its preparation. The Kamarajar Lake water from Athoor is said to enhance the flavor of this biryani, making it quite distinct and flavourful addition to the Biryani culture.
Coming to the brand responsible for popularizing Dindigul Biryani: Dindigul Thalappakatti -established in 1957 by Nagasamy Naidu.
Back then, Mr. Naidu was running a betel nut shop and realized his wife’s unique style of making biriyani had the potential to go places. The biryani used a special blend of spices, a type of short-grain Seeraga samba rice called Parakkum Sittu, and Kannivadi meat, which comes from tender grass-fed goats. Kannivadi by the way is a small town in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu. And thus started the Anandha Vilas Biryani Hotel.
The restaurant started small- with maximum seating for four people but the mutton biriyani had the power to garner patrons from not only Dindigul but gradually from neighboring cities as well. What is interesting to note is that no one referred to the restaurant by its actual name but instead called it ‘Thalappakatti’. Everyone linked the name to Nagasamy, who would sit at the cash counter wearing a white shirt, white dhoti, and a white turban which was inspired by a freedom fighter-poet called Subramanya Bharathi, who Mr. Naidu greatly admired.
When Nagasamy Naidu passed away in1978, his son, renamed the restaurant to Thalappakatti Anandha Vilas. As it happens with every ingenious creator, people started opening up similar types of Biryani outlets. Nagasamy’s son hence decided that it was time to expand and he bought land in Coimbatore, where he opened a 3,000 sq. Ft. restaurant. The rest they say is history.
With a central kitchen in Velachery, they now have branches across 7 countries in the world including Dubai, Malaysia, Singapore, USA, Sri Lanka, France, and India, dishing out 7,000 plates of biryani a day.
Politicians, former Chief Ministers of South India, and South Indian cinema legends have all experienced the flavor of Thalappakatti Biriyani. The Great South Indian cinema Legend Sivaji Ganesan who on visiting his farmhouse at Soorakottai would always stop at Dindigul Thalappakatti Biriyani without fail.
An Honest Review
Thalappakatti Biriyani has been delighting people from the rich to the poor for the last 50 years and the journey goes on! Having already experienced this delight in Paris 2 years ago, I was very excited to see what the Bangalore outlet had in-store for me.
Given the current pandemic situation, I was initially apprehensive about ordering something from outside. The Biryani craving kept on growing alongside my fear, till one day, I decided to take a risk and called up their Kalyan Nagar outlet.
The management assured me of a safe and hygienic experience of ordering my food and I was not left disappointed. The food came to my doorstep, piping hot and complete with all safety norms and the staff delivering my food items was wearing a mask and hand gloves. Not only that, but my food packet also came with a small pouch of hand sanitizer which I thought was a completely super gesture to assure customer trust.
Coming to the food, I ordered the following items:
Chicken Thalappakatti Biryani
While the Mutton Biryani is a hot favourite, I absolutely fancied the the signature Chicken Thalappakatti Biryani. The best part? the biryani still retained its taste and flavor from what I had consumed in Paris two years ago. Rich in aroma and taste, spicy, with succulent pieces of chicken and a boiled egg – this spelled heaven and a highly recommended dish to order.
Pocket Pinch: ₹285
Chicken 65 Biryani
What happens when you combine a popular snack in Tamil Nadu with that of another popular biryani style in the state? You get Dindigul Thalappakatti Chicken 65 Biryani! Boneless pieces of crispy fried spicy chicken engulfed in aromatic and spicy Biryani rice, this is one delight you must experience when it’s piping hot and I promise, you will not be disappointed!
Be sure to consume it while it’s hot otherwise the chicken pieces will tend to get hard and you won’t enjoy this delectable treat in its prime.
Pocket Pinch: ₹260
I hadn’t tried Varuval before, but after reading about it in certain blogs and articles, I decided that I just had to order this! Chicken Varuval is basically a popular Chettinad dish of Tamil Nadu which is semi-dry in texture and cooked in a combination of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, dry chilli, and coriander seeds to bring about a unique aroma and flavor. This goes best with either a plate of steamed ghee rice/sambar and steamed rice or even Biryani rice. I would recommend that you try Chicken Varuval with the Thalappakatti Chicken Biryani for that extra oomph!
The combination of these two will ensure that you would end up longing for more!
Pocket Pinch: ₹242
Serves 2 but its so tasty, you have to order one more!
My last dish was a vegetarian one and honestly out of three dishes that I ordered; this one was a little dampening. Maybe because the non-vegetarian dishes were so amazing, that this felt a little flat compared to the remaining three. However, vegetarians can give the Chilli Paneer a try with Thalappakatti’s famous Mushroom biryani and I’m sure they would experience the same which I had experience with 3 dishes mentioned above.
Pocket Pinch: ₹214
All in all, this is the kind of Biryani which would confuse a lot of people in terms of likability because not many are adept with this style of cooking. However, if you do end up liking it, you wont stop eating it.
Would I recommend Dindigul Thalappakatti? Well, while I am biased with the power packed flavours, I will be neutral when I say, “Ek try toh banta hai boss!”
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Till the next post- A Pinch Of Salt : Food. Fun. Functionality