If you are a Bengali, you must have heard the term ‘gobor-e padmaful’, I won’t take the pain to elaborate the meaning which is pretty clear to every Bengali, but if you are not a Bengali then let’s put it pretty bluntly for you – this place called ‘India Restaurant’ somewhat stands in debris, in a pretty unruly environment filled in with chaos and in a not-so-clean locality of Fancy Market, Khidirpore. In the last few months it has undergone some civil ‘plastic surgery’ work which has made it look like the ‘Shilpa Shetty’ of Biriyani Houses in the town 🙂 So, you can’t really ignore her!
Jokes apart, the interiors of India Restaurant are now simply stunning. It feels as if you are at some mansion in Dubai and you are at some party or dawat maybe, hosted by some super wealthy Sheikh! From the moment you enter this place you notice super clean marble flooring with embedded motifs and walls with lining of glowing signature tiles. The strategically lighted circular false ceiling designs have become quite a trademark of this place by now. If you climb up the stairs and reach second floor, you get to see more of the building and you’ll discover it being immensely well-maintained, clean, brightly lit with an ultimate glittery finish that leaves you overwhelmed. From Interior decoration point of view the place gets full marks for all that royal finish, no doubt about that. Seating arrangements are well spaced out and the chairs and couches are very comfortable as well.
But this multi-storied glittery pot of gastronomical gems is quite hard to commute, and it is really tricky to find a proper place to park your car at this place. So the only saving grace is the abundant availability of Uber or Ola, but then I am not sure if I will take that pain to take a cab and come down all the way, traveling the entire breadth of the city just to have a plate of biriyani! Well, I used to think like this unless I learnt about the range of biriyanis they serve and their characteristics flavors. And after I saw some latest pics of this place, I decided to pay them a visit sometime very soon. But still it got delayed, due to the odd location of this place and the poor parking facility. Finally, the day came when I had to make it to India Restaurant since some of the food bloggers from Panchphoron (including me) were invited to this place by their management. So as pre-decided, I took a cab and reached the place on a super-gloomy day for lunch. I was quite astonished to discover the crowd dining at this place on that weekday late afternoon in such an unpleasant weather outside. The footfall surely indicates the quality of food being served at this place, so I became more hopeful about the food and expectations kept on building!
Now without wasting any further precious words of mine, let’s delve deep into the food talk where the crux of the matter lies! So, here are the items which I had tried at this place –
a) Virgin Mojito – I had heard the mocktails served at this place are amazing, but sadly the mocktails were not available that day. So apart from the North Indian or Mughlai fare they also put equal amount of importance on mocktails and infact on every dish which the serve. In fact the simple Virgin Mojito was too refreshing to be true! The sweet balance was perfect, just a bit lemony with a dash of mint, packed with crushed ice and heavily refreshing! And yes, the presentation was simple yet appetizing with a slice of lemon and cherry on top. Surely you can try this out here.
a) Chicken Cheese Kababs – These are deep brown colored kebabs with a smooth outer texture and were quite fragrant to elevate your appetite. The chicken pieces in there were very soft and it clearly shows how well they were marinated. As the name goes, it was quite cheesy and had a mild spiciness to it; also it was cooked in tandoor to perfection thus locking all the juices inside.
b) Mutton Galawati kababs – Well, if you have already tasted Oudh’s Galawati kebabs then you might be tad disappointed here, but still I must say these are close competitors to Oudh’s Galawati. Here at India the texture of the meat paste which is really creamy and having a dash of zafran in it, was perfect to taste. It looked nice with those flattened meat ball structure. It tasted nice with those thin layered paranthas which were served along with it. But the stuff was tad overdone with the outer skin showing evidences of it, having few hardened or rather burnt spots.
c) Pineapple Tandoori – The stuff tasted awesome, to start with. The large slices of pineapple were very well cooked in tandoor after it was marinated with lemon juice and spices for hours. The final product had all the juices of the pineapple locked inside it, that was fresh and succulent as it should be and tasted awesome with that sweetness of pineapple, tanginess of the spices and that smokiness coming after it got tandoor-ed. Awesomeness redefined!
a) Daryabaadi Biriyani – The main course had five variants of biriyani, and Daryabaadi Biriyani was the one we tasted first. This Daryabaadi biriyani has a very typical taste which you can’t judge or comment without tasting it, it is unlike all other variants. The aroma was so unique and pleasant. Daryabadi Biriyani is surely the signature dish of India Restaurant and it has got fragrant mildly spicy flaky rice, sweet potato and super soft juicy piece of meat! Together they taste awesome! Must try!
b) Kachhi Biriyani – Again a gem of a dish served with all its honesty and subtle flavors in one amazing plate. Here they put layer of raw marinated meat on a layer of raw basmati rice before they are cooked together. The also have the spices and the a yogurt based marinade layer at the bottom, here they also add the sweet potatoes, these layered structure is now left to cook in slow pace in its own steam. The kachhi biriyani overall has a yellowish color and a very subtle flavor, nothing too aromatic or flavorful, the subtle aroma which it has got is beautiful and majestic. The mutton pieces are extremely well cooked and literally melt in your mouth!
c) Awadhi Biriyani – The Awadhi biriyani was served in the earthen handi in which it was cooked. It tasted just amazing to be honest. We were almost lost in that strong aroma of ghee and zafran. This method of slow cooking in the dum pukht style where you seal the handi with wheat dough always locks the awesome flavors and drives the biriyani enthusiasts and foodies crazy when the dough is removed and the lid is opened, the same thing happened with us as well! And somehow we ended overeating this gem of a dish for its rich yet subtle flavors and insanely good aroma! Must try!
d) Chicken and Mutton Biriyani – There were separate plates of Chicken Biriyani and Mutton biriyani which were so called cooked in ‘normal’ style and these are the ones that we have most of the times from all the biriyani shops or houses. These were nice as well, nice aroma, not too oily and the meat pieces were well cooked.
Overall, I will rate India Restaurant close to 8.5 out of 10 for its authentic, amazing flavorful biriyanis and the variants which are available under one roof; not to forget the awesome ambiance and friendly service. Only the location and the communication is bit of a headache which I guess can’t be cured so easily. So, to sum it up if you haven’t yet tried India and you are a Biriyani lover then you are surely doing something wrong, this is a place you should never ever miss if you are in Kolkata. If possible try their Daryabaadi, Awadhi and Kachhi Biriyanis which you won’t get at every Biriyani shop, they are really well prepared and are amazing. Hopefully you will enjoy your meal here, it has got loads of potential to satiate your taste buds, so make sure you reach the place before the wheat dough is removed and the lid gets opened 🙂