Few days back a senior at work recommended my husband a classy new restaurant famous for its Mughlai cuisine. Mumbai has a lot of restaurants that serve kebabs, biryanis and tandoories; so what made this restaurant worth mentioning was its origin. Just like the senior and my husband this restaurant is from Kolkata.
After running four successful branches in Kolkata the restaurant’s owner decided to venture out in Mumbai. Anyone who had a slightest connection with Kolkata was pretty excited to try this new restaurant and my husband was no different. “Honey, do you know they serve biryani the way Bengalis like?” he showed excitement while taking about the new place he couldn’t wait to try. “That’s great”; I replied while imaging a pungent smell of mustard oil overpowering the taste of every spice in the biryani.
Last Saturday after an hour’s drive we reached the classy new place. A huge mob of people was waiting for their tables. I made my way through the crowd and found a restaurant staff taking care of table allotments. The exhausted man took down my name and informed me it might take more than an hour to get a table. I told him no problem and moved back to a side of the restaurants compound.
I looked at the crowd made of rich Bengali and Muslim families. The people standing out there with their expensive clothes, big jewellery and bigger attitude did not look happy about the situation. I noticed a takeout counter in a corner where some people were taking heavy parcels home. Near to it was a cook constantly making rolls like a street side stall in Kolkata. Looking at the response this place was getting I was happy to find a new place to dine on special occasions.
My husband entered after parking the car and looked at me from a distance; I pointed out the cook making rolls and he got a couple of rolls for us to eat while waiting. The rolls were tasty and our frustration shifted back to excitement for the famous biryani.
Finally we got a table; we ordered the biryani instantly. People who were enjoying their dinner inside showed no concern for the madness outside. They were chatting and laughing and were in no hurry. I noticed almost every table had biryani on it. These rich people were too classy and polished to notice the beautiful interior the restaurant had. It looked like a room in a Mughal Emperor’s palace with modern furniture. The staff was looking like they walked out of the Arabian Nights stories.
The famous biryani came and it looked colorless we assumed the meat must be below the white rice but after digging in we found just one bland boiled piece of meat. We called the waiter and he confirmed he gave us the right order. It tasted bland; it was a pile of greasy white steam rice with a piece of boiled meat. There was no flavor or spice. We pushed down almost half and told the waiter to pack the rest of it. I looked at others eating the biryani and they looked happy with it.
Not knowing how to react we left for home with our small parcel. When we reached home we noticed a stray dog looking at us with hope. My husband asked me lifting the parcel “Are you going to eat this?” I gestured no and he gave the rest of the famous biryani to the dog. The dog swiftly started eating. We looked closely and the dog looked very happy with that food. His satisfied impression matched the rich faces I saw in the restaurant.
Looking at the dog my husband said; “May be he gets it.”
“What?” I asked. He replied, “Being classy!”