The Biryani Kings- Karachi Jeetay Ga

By Ayesha Naveed

The Karachi kings’ squad hails from a number of different cities around the globe and if there’s one thing we recommend them to eat on their visit to the city which they represent, it’s definitely BIRYANI!

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It’s a widely known fact that you’re not a real (desi) foodie if you’re not a fan of this spicy, tangy, aromatic and oh-so-delicious blend of meat with rice! Well, in Karachi it is, anyway, because we karachiites LOVE our biryani. Just like drinking tea is a tradition in the Britain, having biryani is a strong one, in this city by the sea. So much so, that we serve it on all occasions from casual family get-togethers, to birth announcements and from college farewells to weddings. And, don’t judge us, but we even serve it for funerals!

In short, it’s a lifelong journey which begins with birth and ends only with the end of our lives!

A good biryani should pass the age old test where no two grains of rice should be stuck to each other! Not just that but it should have the right balance of spicy to savory too. In Karachi, there are a number of variants of biryani available in the market which cater to the wishes of all and sundry. Coming back to the Karachi Kings, we have lined up the following options in biryani for them to try out:

Sindhi Chicken Biryani

Available at a number of restaurants and take away places, this is the most popular kind of biryani out of all. It’s spicy, delicious, and colorful, has big chicken pieces and a few chunks of potatoes and is usually served with a yoghurt sauce, called Raita.

Student Biryani – one of the most popular take-out biryani places

The idea of a biryani take out was first introduced in 1969, by Café students, in the old Saddar area of Karachi. Their food started selling like hotcakes and they later opened a number of restaurants all over the city by the name of Student Biryani.

Burns Road’s Famous Biryani, as they call themselves – Photo Credits Food Centre

Many others followed suit and also became popular including Biryani Centre, Indus Foods, Karachi Foods, Food Centre and Jeddah Biryani, to name a few.

Seafood Biryani

What’s that other thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Karachi? The sea, of course! The city is surrounded by the Arabian Sea and you just can’t visit Karachi without taking a trip to the famous Sea View. As kids, we went there almost every week. We would spend hours trying to look for seashells and sea glass scattered along the shore.  For us, it was like the inside of a treasure chest where you could never be certain about what you might find. It was bewitching, almost magical… but I digress.

The succulent chunks of prawns combined with the deliciousness of biryani, are a match made in heaven!

Having a vast coastline naturally means that we have seafood here, and truckloads of it too! So why not create something with it that would give our very own personal touch to this delicacy. The untraditional marriage of biryani with prawns and fish, bought off fresh from a roaming fish vendor or from one of the many commercial suppliers, is an age old practice at homes. However, its use by the commercial Biryani Franchises is fairly new.

The cooking of seafood biryani is even more technical than the regular one because it can easily go very wrong. If the prawns or the fish aren’t fresh or not cooked properly, it leaves the rice smelling weird and the whole dish can become very unappetizing.

If memory serves me right, this concept was first introduced by Biryani of the Seas, located in the Clifton area, during 2010. Apart from the introduction of delicious seafood biryani – with fish and prawns – they also offer chicken biryani but to spice things up, they use boneless chicken with different flavors ranging from reshmi to tikka. This has earned them a good name among the biryani connoisseurs. The Biryani Centre, also, have improved their menu by adding fish biryani to the list. I think out of all, the King’s Shakib-ul-Hassan would appreciate it the most.

White Biryani

During the year 2014, an eatery called WB – the White Biryani, located in the heart of DHA, brought a revolution in the world of biryani, in Karachi at least, by introducing their namesake, the white biryani. This dish is not a new concept for the people of subcontinent because it was known to be one of the staple dishes served by the Royal chefs during the British Rule (me thinks, is that where Heston Blumenthal – the master of culinary deception – got his first idea from??).

Although colorless in its appearance, the flavor is anything but. Upon sight, your mind may scream a THIS IS NOT BIRYANI warning at you, but you must ignore it because even the first mouthful would quiet it down to a satisfied hum, much like our very own captain – Shoaib Malik.  He may appear to be all innocent and vulnerable, but when on the pitch, he’s a force to be reckoned with.

It may look like a pulao but is definitely not one. Both are white yes, but that’s the end of the similarities. The white Biryani, is cooked with a number of spices and herbs and uses the Biryani technique of layering and everything.

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Looks can be deceiving – The white biryani by WB Photo by the Author

I have yet to come across another eatery that offers white biryani, so for now WB is the only option we have from where to get this deceptive dish from! Bunch of Karachi King’s overseas players would love.

In a nutshell, just as cricket is deeply rooted in the fabric of Karachi’s culture, biryani is a passion for its residents too.

And, just as different ingredients come together for a perfect pot of biryani, the Karachi Kings, with their diverse but complementing skills are bound to make a perfect dish of delicious performance.