Last week, I started getting withdrawal symptoms. I hadn't had a dose of good biryani for almost a month, and I was breaking out into a cold sweat. Life without succulent pieces of mutton mixed with aromatic rice seemed dull and dreary. So I followed my own motto: When biryanis start to haunt you, go to Purani Dilli.
So I went. One fine evening, when all of Old City was draped in lights, I alighted at the Chawri Bazar Metro Station with a gorge-or-die look in my eyes. I walked down to Matia Mahal, soaking in the ambience of a place that was teeming with life after a day of fasting. This is the Ramzan month, so the area around Jama Masjid was humming with people who were done with their iftaar and were moving around the well-lit bazaar, buying stuff for the morning sehri - when those on fast have an early morning meal.
Festive offers too
Roadside stalls were laid out with knick-knacks such as bright and colourful skullcaps. The lane was full of little eating stalls - selling anything from pakoras, dahi vadas and kababs to kheer and sewaiyan. There were people all around, and the air was festive. Between Jama Masjid and my destination, I learned three new swear words. I did salaam to many friends and reached Mota Biryaniwala's shop.
Manpasand Chatpati Biryani Point is the official name of the shop. But if you mention this name to any local, he would look you up and down and squirt a stream of paan juice into a ditch nearby and enrich your vocabulary with some interesting additions. For the fussy reader, the address is shop no. 701, Chowk Chitli Qabar, Haveli Azam Khan. If you are walking down Matia Mahal from Jama Masjid, you will reach Chitli Qabar after some 500 metres. On your left, at the mouth of Haveli Azam Khan, you will see this huge gentleman dishing out biryani from an equally big degh. Because of his ample girth, he is called Mota Biryaniwala.
After doing dua-salaam, I ordered one kilogram of biryani for Rs.40. It was put in a plastic bag, weighed and then handed over to me. I bought a few other goodies and made my way home. Needless to say, the food was delicious. Mota Biryaniwala's biryani is cooked with buff meat. The meat was soft and the rice had been richly flavoured with the juices of the meat and a bundle of spices. My visiting brother-in-law loved it and delayed his departure home by three days. I was happy with the biryani, too - but I was happier still to be back with my people