For the first edition of Neha Loves To Eat, we decided to set out on a hunt for the best Biryani in Kochi. Biryani- a celebration of all things loved about Indian food- fluffy grains of rice, wafting aromas of spices, vibrant colours, decadent flavours. Being a personal favourite comfort food, I took it upon myself to search for the best biryanis around town for Cochin Herald readers- solely for research purposes, of course!
But this was something I couldn’t do alone! Kochi is home to several hundreds of Biryani spots- so I needed an expert.
Enter Foodiemenon aka Jay Menon! If his 40,000+ fan following on Instagram alone isn’t enough proof of his popularity and dedication to being a self-proclaimed foodie, this “hungry lawyer” has quite the talent for sniffing out a good Biryani or two. And anything I said can and would be used against me, as I figured out much later!
We set out on our foodie adventure on empty stomachs and hearts filled with anticipation of the biryanis that were soon to tantalise our tastebuds- again, solely for research purposes.
We hopped into the car and set off to Thoppumpady for our first indulgence of the day!
1: Mutton Biryani from Jeff’s
True Biryani connoisseurs in Kochi already know where in Thoppumpady we went- a little unassuming place called Jeff’s Biryani. As you walk into the corridor leading up to this restaurant with three tables set inside, you can’t help but ignore the aromas of those delectable Biryani spices wafting in the air.
We were greeted by the friendly mother-son duo and we couldn’t quite hide our excitement to try the mutton Biryani. Taking a break from shovelling out Biryani for parcels, they share a page of their history with us. Run by Bohri Muslims, serving Biryani with flavours finding roots in Yemen, Jeff’s is as authentic as it gets! With the rest of the Biryanis on our list suited to a more South Indian palate, we thought it made sense to give this a go.
We sat down and the piping hot Biryani landed on our table with a side of salad and their special Yemeni date pickle. The first taste of the Biryani rendered our eyes wide open and we shared a glance knowing that this was for sure going to be our #1 Biryani of the day- and boy, in retrospect, were we right!
The Mutton Biryani was impeccably flavoured, with the right amount of fat. We were told that extra oil or ghee wasn’t added- it was the goat fat mixing with the masala. The piquant Mutton Biryani with the sweet date pickle was a marriage of flavours unlike any other. A portion of mutton biryani from Jeff’s costs Rs 220/- and is well worth the price!
To simply put it- this was the best damn Biryani I’ve had in my life.
2: Fish Biryani from Tellicherry Kitchen
This is one of my personal favourites and I had to get this featured on the list. There’s no winning an argument with a lawyer, but I could bet on the flavours of this Tellicherry Kitchen Fish Biryani- and finally after tasting the Biryani, Jay and me agreed that this would be on the second spot!
Tellicherry Kitchen has an undeniable chic vibe which still somehow always feels like home. While they have several great dishes to offer, I think this fish Biryani is one of the superstars on their menu.
Served in true Tellicherry Kitchen kitschy style, the black shovel is the perfect utensil to hold the fish Biryani that can easily be shared by two!
As the Biryani is brought out onto the table, the first thing you feel is your mouth flooding with saliva- something so tempting about the smell of that spicy masala which coats the fish! It’s served with a papad, a green chammanthi and their classic pickle.
Once you sift through the rice, your eyes meet the juiciest and biggest piece of fish nestled within and marinating in the masala of the Biryani. A piece of the fish here, a scoop of the Biryani rice there, a dash of the pickle, the green chammanthi and there you have it- a perfect mouthful of Biryani.
A portion of the Tellicherry Kitchen fish Biryani costs Rs 280/- and can quite comfortably be shared by two!
3: Chicken Biryani from CB Caterers
The next spot, and our favourite chicken biryani on the list is one we consider a hidden gem of sorts. Tucked away in the narrow bylanes of Karukkapaly junction is CB Caterers- and it was here that we had the most budget-friendly yet biggest portion of Biryani!
The Biryani in question is also quite unconventional- as is apparent in the picture, the chicken pieces are doused in gravy and tossed and top with the fragrant rice, finally garnished with fried onions.
One bite is all it took to confirm that looks did no justice to this Biryani- it looked ordinary but tasted unlike any other! This Biryani was served with a side of salad and the most flavourful date pickle.
The chicken biryani at CB Caterers comes in 3 sizes- we decided to play it safe and ordered the medium one which costs Rs 90/- and it was quite the hearty portion, which could easily be shared by two.
4: Andhra-style Chicken Biryani from Tandoor Chillies
We soon understood that it would be a crime if we set out on a Biryani adventure and overlooked the Andhra Biryani- and so we made our way over to Tandoor Chillies to try out their chicken biryani.
The restaurant possesses a quintessential Indian restaurant vibe and awaited the penultimate biryani of the day!
Unlike the other biryanis which were served in plates, this came in a copper vessel and was served with an assortment of sides including a spicy gravy to douse the Biryani rice in. It also, unlike most biryanis, cane topped with a hard boiled egg- something a lot of people love! Andhra biryani has a green tinge to it, reminiscent of the surplus of green chillies, cilantro and mint leaves that go into its preparation.
The Biryani was flavoured to the tee and a portion costs just Rs 170/-.
5: Rawuthar Chicken Biryani from Arippa
On popular demand, we decided to try our third chicken biryani of the day and the Rawuthar Biryani from Arippa it was!
Arippa has a modern thattukada vibe with fun caricatures adorning its walls.
The Biryani was served heaped on a plate with two huge pieces of chicken and a hard boiled egg. This was one of the five biryanis wherein the rice held more flavour than the protein itself.
It was served alongside a salad and pickle, and sells for Rs 150/- (exclusive of taxes).
After an adventure of gorging into five delicious biryanis in a day, we couldn’t avoid the groggy eyes and the Biryani-induced food coma! You best believe we did our research well- I speak for myself when I say that the 3-hour-long midday nap that followed was impossible to avoid!