Kolkata, the city of joy, is also a paradise for food lovers. From the famous Macher Jhol to the Kolkata Biryani, the city has a lot to offer. Talking about the Kolkata Biryani, did you know it was introduced to us by an exiled Nawab, Wajid Ali Shah? Read on to know more about the Origin of Kolkata Biryani.
Wajid Ali Shah’s History:
Wajid Ali Shah, the 10th and the last Nawab of Awadh, in the year 1856, was dethroned by the British colonizers. He then left Lucknow and settled in Calcutta with none of his royal privileges. Ali Shah sent his family to London to petition his case before the Queen and the British Parliament, but the Revolt of 1857 came into action. Nawab was immediately arrested and kept in Fort William in Kolkata for 26 months. On his release, he was given the freedom to choose a place to live anywhere in the country. Ali Shah preferred Metiabruz to settle on the outskirts of Calcutta. Nawab then rebuilt a replica of his beloved capital, complete with grand Islamic structures, a zoo filled with tropical animals, and the famous food from the royal kitchen.
Origin of the Awadhi Kolkata Biryani:
Being stripped of his royal privilege and shortage of funds, the cooks didn’t have enough money to buy eggs and meat. So, they started using potatoes instead of eggs and meat for making the royal repast. And this is how the famous Kolkata Biryani came into existence.
According to the sources, the only difference between Awadhi Biryani and the Kolkata Biryani is that the latter has aloo. When Wajid Ali came to Calcutta, he did not have enough funds to feed his entourage elaborately. But his culinary heritage was his biggest treasure. So, after a few years in Kolkata, the potato was introduced in the biryani. Back then, potatoes were being imported and were also considered as a novelty. It was also quite expensive, but not as much as meat. Apart from bringing down the cost, the potato also helped to increase the volume of the dish.
However, potatoes were used in making the royal biryani not just because of a financial crunch, but also because of the Nawab’s intense fascination for it.
Awadhi Kolkata Biryani Cooking Style:
Biryani, a Mughalai dish, soon became part of the culinary tradition of Calcutta. The ‘Dum-Phukt’ biryani is what the crowd of Kolkata loves the most. In this style, the lid of the pot is sealed to prevent the steam from leaking out. The lid is sealed to cook and mix all the ingredients evenly. Nawab loved this style of the biryani and ordered his cooks to add potatoes every time they cook biryani. Surely, the roots and legacy of the Kolkata Biryani go back to the 19th century, but it is loved by generations to date.
Places to Eat Kolkata Biryani in Kolkata
Oudh 1590, Dum-Phukt, Shaam-e-Awadh, and the Bhojan Ghar are few restaurants in Kolkata that serve the renowned lip-smacking Awadhi Kolkata Biryani.