How do I begin describing Paradise? Its a name that would pop-up at mere mention of word Biryani, specially when talking about Hyderabad. As known a name as it is, it mostly gets bad rep from almost everyone, at least on internet.
Infact if you have to prove you are a Biryani lover, your first start by slamming paradise. Your love for Biryani is directly proportional to how vociferous you are about your disapproval of what paradise serves for Biryani. If you are a bit mild you will still share how its no longer the same it used to be, but then don’t we hear this about almost every legend in any part of India? Few names that get regularly accused of not being the same or overrated – Bade Mian of Bombay, Tunday of Lucknow, Karim’s of Delhi, MTR of Bangalore – but then I have personally visited them all in last year or two – and no, did not find them to be overrated at all. Food served by all these places has lot of merit (refraining from using the word ‘still’ here), at least in their home branches and in few cases, their other outlets as well.
Before I went to the Paradise’s outlet on Paradise Circle (Yes! they do give name to a super busy junction in heart of Secunderabad), I did try their Biryani in Bangalore, which I ordered in using some random food delivery app, and I remember having no complains at that time as well.
Biryani, Salan and Khubani ka Meetha
Now coming to Paradise on Paradise circle. The outlet was just 10 minutes walk away from the hotel I was staying, making it a natural choice for my first meal in Land of Biryani. Stepping into the ground floor entrance, was greeted by a metal detector and a guard ready to frisk me, something akin to a big shopping mall. Was also told that ground floor was for takeaway only, and I need to climb up for dining area. Stepped into the first level, saw a few tables, none was empty, walked a little more and saw the dining area open up into space full of tables – all occupied. Thought would have to wait, however was guided to another level with a inconspicuous entrance and sitting area, however once I was inside I was surprised by the sheer size of the hall, number of tables and their occupancy.
Size of the place reminded me of ‘langars’ or public feasts in my native North India. Table after table full of families and groups feasting on their favorite dishes, with Biryani being the common factor on almost all tables. All of them overlooked and served by an army of attentive waiters, supervisors and support staff – all of them looked like they knew their jobs well, that said its not possible to run operations at this scale if the staff is not well trained and organised.
On conversing with a suited booted staffer, who seemed like a section supervisor – I was told that the place can seat 1400 souls at the same time – takeaways and deliveries excluded. It was lunch hour of a working Friday and the place was surprisingly full. But then I was the only one surprised, as the staffer told me that due to Navratras it was ‘only’ houseful, otherwise there usually is a huge waiting for tables. Just to remind you here, that 1400 is not the number of people they serve in a day or in a particular meal time – that is there seating capacity and tables keep moving with new diners occupying them as the previous occupants are done with their fill. More enterprising readers can do their maths now.
The way platter gets served
So far so good, but as someone intelligent said – the proof of pudding is in eating it. Since I was alone, I decided to skip all monkey business in the menu and jumped straight to Biryani – Mutton Dum Biryani to be precise. Did not take long for waiter to bring that to my table, mirchi ka salan and raita came as its partners in crime. Service was courteous enough to serve the same and it did not take more than a few seconds for me to dig my eager fingers in the source of awesome fragrance on my table.
The moment fingers went in, a smile came out on my face – this was indeed a good biryani, something you can tell just by touching the same. A genuinely good biryani would not leave any traces of oil or fat on your fingers, spices or gravy of any kind should not stick to your fingers. After pleasing my sense of smell, another of my senses was made happy by the Biryani sitting on my table and I was yet to bite into the first morsel. Finally it was turn of my sense of taste, and was it pleased? Hell yeah! As it was experiencing one of the finest dishes it had experienced. Soft succulent pieces of mutton, which were coming apart by bare fingers adding to the aroma and flavor of high quality rice – all brilliantly accentuated by slightly higher than mild spices.
Soft and Succulent Mutton pieces inside fragrant rice.
Served along with it was Mirchi ka Salan and mix vegetable raita. Barely felt the need for salan but occasional bite mixed with raita worked as an excellent cleanser and soother for the palette. Initially the portion size seemed to be too big for one person, however did not feel heavy while eating it or after finishing it off. Infact found it to be so good that had no option but to finish it off.
Mirchi ka Salan
Though was full by end of it, however as they say – there always is a separate stomach for dessert and there was no way I was not ordering Khubani ka Meetha, a dessert made from Apricots, another specialty of Hyderabad.
After that tried Biryani from much legendary Shadab Hotel near Char Minaar and then Veg Biryani from Alpha in Secunderabad. Even though both were amazing in their own right specially the Alpha one and gave Paradise a serious run for its money, however there is no way that they could be termed finer or better that what I have had already eaten at paradise.
Khubani ka Meetha with Ice-cream
If you are a Hyderabadi then I am sure you have a much finer palette and also a local favorite for Biryani, however if you are a food lover looking for genuine Dum Biryani then ignore all naysayers and head straight to Paradise – you will not be disappointed.
Chhole Bhature are the National Food of India, and you get them around every corner in the city. Though Chhole Bhature can never be bad, however there are some which are better than others. Here is a list of 35 places divided by the region to help you savor nothing but the best from the City.
Chhole Bhature are ‘National’ food of Delhi and to celebrate our love for the same we mark 2nd October of every-year as International Eatlo Chhole Bhature Day, with 2016 seeing the third year of celebrations. As lot of you know that we organised Eatlo Eatups – where a bunch of us got together and went to out eat and/or explore the food scene.
However for this day we put together something called #VirtualEatup – where people from all over the world participate by eating Chhole Bhature and sharing pictures on Social Media.
International Chhole Bhature Day : How to participate?
1. You can cook the bhature at home and post a picture and/or recipe.
2. You can go out to eat Chhole Bhature and post a picture with your feedback.
3. You can eat Chhole Bhature from your favourite joint and just share a picture.
4. You can get them packed and bring them to eat and share a picture.
5. You can organise a Chhole Bhature Party, cook Chhole Bhature and invite your friends over. Or order in maybe.
For those in Delhi, which happens to be home of Chhole Bhature, we have put together a list of our favourite places from all over the town – have visited all of them personally and can recommend the wares. This list is not comprehensive for sure, however still the most comprehensive you will find.
Not putting complete details, a quick google search for names would guide you better. The map mostly is for illustrative purposes, just search for the name of google maps and they shall guide you better.
Kwality Restaurant, Connaught Place (Most expensive but fine dine place)
This list was originally published in October 2015, on occasion of 3rd International Eatlo Chhole Bhature Day, and has been revised on 2nd November 2016. The recommendations remain the same, however we have been able to document a lot more about these places in last 1 year and have updated the recommendations with relevant links to our posts on Foodiye.