What up y’all!
We’re now beginning week 2 of our trip to India.
So far, we’ve seen the inner workings of a premier institute in Hyderabad [the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences a.k.a NIMS], visited the Char Minar (a giant monument built in 1591 that looks like the epicentre of a ginormous free-for-all open market) and the Birla Mandir (a white marble temple with North Indian influences)
We’ve now also had a lot of food, ranging from traditional south Indian food like idlis and dosas; indochinese food like schezwan fried rice and noodles; barbeque nation, a kebab buffet with pan ice cream, to Hyderabadi biryani.
This brings me to my topic for today, biryani.
The other day, we went to Paradise Biryani, allegedly, the ultimate destination for biryani.
Now, for those of you who don’t know what biryani is, Webster’s dictionary defines biryani as –
An Indian dish of meat, fish or vegetables cooked with rice flavored especially with saffron or turmeric.
Based off of that definition, I don’t believe Webster has had good biryani before. Some of my friends consider biryani to be a supreme form of food, with the flavour of transcendency, delivered on a tray of gold, served by celestial angels. Although these friends I have are imaginary, I believe very few would disagree with this definition.
Most Indians relish biryani, and it’s often eaten at marriages, festivals, and as take-out, with joy and fervor.
Although that may be true, to me, biryani is also a painful multi-step, complicated dish that takes days of contemplation and a day or two of preparation.
At it’s base is basmati rice, infused with milk steeped in saffron. The rice is cooked, akin to making al dente pasta, then layered several times over with homemade gravy with a complicated blend of fennel, cumin, star anise, cinnamon and clove with an onion,tomato and ginger-garlic base. This is usually topped with ghee fried cashews and onions.
It’s also made with meat, and, in the past, I’ve marinated meat over night with another bunch of Indian spices before layering it.
Sound complicated? You betcha it is. Which is what our program director implied when he was talking about the times he’s made biryani in the past.
While we were eating biryani at Paradise biryani, I was somehow stirred with the need to challenge Gopal to a biryani-off when we return to Boston.
Gopal was intrigued/disturbed (it’s hard to tell). Ed is excited and is currently looking at finding judges and in being my sous-chef/sidekick [he is not aware that I’ve only made biryani once before, and, no one needs to tell him that]. James, Andrea and Jocelyn are all on board with the chance to eat biryani.
I do not regret my decision. However, I midly regret my decision to suggest that our program is only big enough for one true biryani.
Anyway, I think we’re gonna have a biryani-off this year. I can’t afford to lose, and, I’m deeply afraid that Ed will one day find out that he may have to leave the program if we lose.
Tune in for more of my ramblings in a few days.
My next topic will be – The Medical Education System: Virtues and Vices
Until next time!