Rajani Sen Road, does that ring a bell? It’s the famous neighborhood of the fictitious Bengali investigator Feluda, created by the master storyteller Satyajit Ray. The same Rajani Sen Road is now the house of some of the best coastal cuisines in Kolkata, along with some other regional delicacies with the addition of Surfiré – The Coastal Café.
In Kolkata, ask anyone about their biryani they will go weak in the knees with the imagination of fluffy, long-grained, and flavourful rice, tender meat, juicy potato, and the heady aroma of Kolkata Biryani. Few will also know about Hyderabadi Biryani, but decidedly less will be aware of other variants.
Ishani Priyadarshini, chef, and owner of Surfiré introduces to the citizens of Kolkata the Thalassery Chicken Biryani. Originated from once a strategic port town Thalassery in Kerala, the biryani has influences of Malabari, Arabs, and Mughals.
The chicken and rice are cooked separately with Malabar spices. An indigenous variety of short-grained rice used called kaima or jeerakasala for its characteristic aroma. Fried rice and the chicken are placed in layers, topped with fried cashew nuts, sultanas, birista, and slow-cooked using dum pukht technique.
A true Thalassery Biriyani is something to live for!
Surfiré prepares Thalassery Biryani in basmati rice too and also has mutton and pork variants.
From the down under if we little up towards the central part of India, we come across a festive preparation called Haleem. It is a popular delicacy of Hyderabadi cuisine and has its origins in the Middle East. Traditionally a Ramadan special delicacy served as an evening meal during iftar after fasting for the whole day.
Surfiré prepares Mutton Haleem in the most authentic way to give it a mushy texture. The slow-cooked delicacy is a bowl full of protein and flavor – a mash of minced mutton, lentils, spices, broken wheat, and a melange of spices. To amp up the flavor, sprinkle sweet caramelized birista and squeeze a dash of lemon on the top. Those who love it a bit more spicy, finely diced green chilies shall tickle your taste buds.
For Haleem fanatics, the good news is at Surfiré; one can order haleem throughout the year with prior intimation.
Have you ever thought of preparing mutton gravy with only three ingredients? Moving towards the northern part of India, in the old days, Rajasthani royals set out for their annual months-long hunting. The hunting company would typically carry bare minimal practical ingredients clarified butter(ghee), salt, and dried mathania chilies to cook the game meat in the jungle – used a lot of chillis to camouflage the gamy odor of the flesh. That’s how this dish got its name Junglee Maas (transl. wild meat).
Back in Kolkata now, that authenticity in the preparation of Junglee Maas can be witnessed inside the kitchen of Surfiré.
Mutton is slow-cooked for hours in low flame in its juices until the meat falls off from the bone. One cardinal rule for cooking this dish – mutton is always prepared in ghee with dried mathania chilies. The layer of floating ghee on the top of the Junglee Maas makes it irresistible.
Laal Maas is the antithesis to Junglee Maas; it is an elaborate use of ingredients and a more protracted process of cooking.
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