Venturing into Biryani House with Pakistan-born Sadia Kashif in my party, gave me a unique insight into this venue.
While it looks like another simply furnished business on busy Haldon Street in Lakemba, the combination of authentic Pakistani food and pictures of Lahore, make it special for Sadia. “It makes me feel like home,” said Sadia as she pointed out the city sights, like the Minar-e-Pakistan (Pakistan Day Memorial), depicted in large colour photographs on restaurant’s tiled walls.
As we bonded over our Chicken Biryani ($12), I explained that my great-uncle was a telegraphist in the British Raj. He wrote a short novella about the time leading up to the partition of India. Sadia was very keen to hear what he’d said about the split, reminding me that Pakistani people have a very different view of the 1947 India-Pakistan partition, because it resulted in Pakistan's independence.
The colourful (from saffron) long-grained basmati rice dish served here is Hyderabadi biryani, of Indian origin. It involves layers of spice marinated meat and rice, and is fragrant and delicious to consume. We eat it with a bowl of dahi chutney made from yoghurt, mint and onion. Owner Urooj Ansari was keen for me to point out that while you might be able to get a home-cooked biryani in a local supermarket these days, only restaurants like his own, are kept to our state’s stringent food handling standards. From their drinks fridge we try Pakola ($3). With the name derived from 'Pakistan Cola', this green (Pakistan’s national flag colour) ice cream soda is one of the few drinks manufactured in Pakistan that is exported globally. It’s been around since 1950, and is a sweet and pleasant beverage.
We end our lunch on a bright red plate of Chicken 65 ($10) a deep fried chicken dish that is said to have originated in 1965 at the Buhari Hotel in Chennai, India. Flavoured with garlic, ginger, onions and red chilli, these boneless chicken pieces have a compelling taste that makes you want to keep popping them into your mouth, a bit like Korean fried chicken.
I visited for lunch as part of Taste Food Tours’ Beirut Bangladesh and Beyond tour ($99/person).
Read more about this food tour HERE.
1/40 Haldon Street, Lakemba
Ph: (02) 9759 5006