Biryani is a savory meal consisting of basmati rice that is slow-cooked and served with chunks of meat, typically lamb or chicken. It is an extremely popular dish in the Gulf region, even though its roots are probably in India, Iran, and Turkey.
Biryani is the kind of meal that could take several hours to prepare at home, as the rice is first infused with spices like cinnamon and cloves long before being cooked with the meat.
But in the United Arab Emirates, you can now order and eat biryani – the country’s unofficial national dish – within a matter of minutes at new Abu Dhabi restaurant.
It’s called Biryani Pot, and it’s a one-of-a-kind fast-food eatery that has one of the most extensive Indian-food menus in the capital city. The restaurant’s name, though, says it all – Biryani Pot has but one specialty, biryani. It’s affordable and delivered quickly to your table, with all of the flavor of slow-cooked biryani.
“It’s more like semi-fast-food,” said Suraj Velappan, Biryani Pot’s assistant manager. “Indian food can not be 100% fast-food, like burger or fried chicken. You can’t just make something in two minutes and expect to have the real taste.”
Here’s how they prepare it: they start by mixing the rice with garam masala, an assortment of Indian spices such as turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, and cardamom. Then, the rice and spice mixture is pressure-cooked for between two-and-a-half and three hours. It’s cooked with rich ghee butter, which helps the rice absorb the flavors of the spices.
Once the rice is done, cooks add grilled pieces of lamb, chicken, or fresh prawns that were separately prepared. Finally, the biryani mix is scooped into an earthen clay pot and then re-heated together in an oven.
Biryani Pot serves dum-style biryani, which means that the clay pot containing the rice mixture is covered with a piece of dough before the final stage of cooking. After a few minutes in the oven, the dough rises into a thin layer of warm bread, sealing the top of the pot. The dough functions as a steam cooker for the biryani by trapping the heat and all the juices in the biryani, adding richness to the flavor.
Biryani Pot, which bills its menu as “food for the soul,” hasn’t sacrificed any of the quality with their fast-food approach to biryani. It comes to your table piping hot. Garam masala-scented steam rushes out of the pot once you rip open the bread and have your first bite. It’s not very spicy food.
Biryani Pot stopped using chili peppers and chili flakes in its cooking after receiving complaints of the spiciness during its first few months open, according to restaurant staff. Still, they’ve got tiny plastic ramekins of diced green chili peppers if you do want something spicy.
The biryani may be their speciality, but Biryani Pot also has plenty of kebabs, curries and other Indian specialities on offer. The restaurant counter and food prep areas are clean, the service is quick and efficient, and you can even get your 10th meal free with a loyalty card.
Biryani Pot is the second Indian restaurant owned by the Purple Honey group (the other is Coriander in Al Ain). It’s exciting for food-lovers in the city and region to see a small Emirati-owned restaurant chain take off with such a unique idea, in a great location.
Biryani Pot: see the menu
Address: The Galleria, Sowwah Square, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 2 676 6555