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Kalyani Biryani – The Other Biryani Of Hyderabad

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The Kalyani Nawabs of Bidar came to Hyderabad sometime in the 18th century and set up their haveli which is today known as the ‘Kalyani Nawab ki Devdi’. The Kalyani Nawabs were from the present day Basavakalyan which was located on the fringes of the erstwhile Hyderabad State. The Nawabs were known for their exceptional hospitality, especially towards those who visited from Bidar. The Devdi was known to serve two meals to everyone visiting from Bidar and around and the Kalyani Biryani was the most popular dish served by them. Today, the Devdi of the Kalyani Nawabs stands in ruins, which goes to show the sad state of affairs. It’s disheartening to see that we’re unable to preserve our historical heritage through monuments.

Operation Polo

In 1948, the Indian government took over Hyderabad State in what was named ‘Operation Polo’. These were tough times for the nobles of the Hyderabad state, especially the Kalyani Nawabs. It is believed that over a period of time, the cooks of the Devdi spread out and took up jobs elsewhere in the city. Some joined existing food joints while others started their own roadside stalls or Bhandi.

A certain gentleman by the name of Dawood started his own Bhandi. Making and selling Biryani according to the traditional recipe as he knew it. The Kalyani Biryani is made with small cubes of Beef, regular spices, Onion, Ginger, Garlic, Yoghurt, and lots of Tomato. It’s an exceptionally taste Biryani which is why gradually, it grew in popularity.

Sometime in the ’50s, Dawood set up a permanent stall behind the Dargah in Murgi Chowk, close to Charminar. There might have been other cooks who practiced and propagated the Kalyani biryani school of thought but no one became as popular and as successful as Dawood. And he aptly named his shop ‘Kalyani Biryani’, because that’s what he did best.

Kalyani Biryani vs Hyderabadi Biryani

Many people believe that the Kalyani biryani is the Beef version of the Hyderabadi Biryani. It’s not. The Kalyani biryani’s very unlike the regular Hyderabadi Biryani. It has a distinct Tomato, Ginger, and Garlic flavour. But is not as rich as its Hyderabadi cousin. As it doesn’t have saffron and other expensive spices. But is still quite tasty.

I feel it’s unfair to label the Kalyani biryani as a poor man’s Hyderabadi biryani. I’d say it isn’t poor, but it’s definitely unpretentious. Hyderabad is of course, far more affluent than what it was in the ’50s and the relevance of the much cheaper Kalyani Biryani has probably dropped. But it’s still pretty popular in the outskirts of Hyderabad and in the less affluent Muslim areas of Hyderabad. And of course, still pretty dominant in Bidar and its surrounding areas.

Dawood’s shop in Murgi Chowk is a pale shadow of what it used to be. He passed away some years ago and his sons now run it. The place isn’t well maintained but everything in this biryani shop looks exactly the same as it did years ago. The Kalyani biryani here still tastes ok but the locals of Murgi Chowk tell me that it used to be much better.

Here’s another post about Kalyani biryani in The Hindu and you can learn how to make a homestyle version here

Happy hunting and Chowder-on!

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