Ah. Biryani. That mouth-watering melting pot of flavors and spices. Who doesn’t like biryani? Shockingly, me. I have never been a fan and always wondered at the euphoric reaction it elicited among everyone, including my husband. But, during this quarantine period, I decided to conquer some of my misconceptions and biases (one reason for my dislike for biryani is its name) for certain foods. And, biryani tops the list. Others are kadalai curry, vadakari, korma (i really like the aroma, just not a fan of the actual dish, go figure that), aappam (again, I love the looks, the concept, just not crazy about actually eating it). Anyway, I started with searching for a good recipe for biryani and watched a youtube episode of Revathy Shanmugam’s Kavignar Veetu Samayal and decided to give it a try. Jackpot! Not only did I actually love it and not because I was super hungry, but I even ate it as a leftover. Finally, my search for a biryani I could love is over! This will be, for sure, my go to recpe for biryani. I made the side dish she made as well, and loved it also. Have provided the link in the notes section – for those who can follow Thamizh. Now, on to the recipe.
It was the summer of ’91. I was fat with my first child. A couple of our friends from our former Indian company were visiting us in Indiana, and the 4 of us decided to go see another couple who worked with us in India, who then lived in St Louis. It was a roughly 300 mile drive, and it was hot, and I felt like a house with a furnace in it, but boy, was it fun! Our friends took us to the airshow in St Louis. It was there that I first had this strange dish. It was masala vadai, but not, wrapped in nan, but of course it wasn’t nan, filled with raita, and what the bloody hell, it was not raita! It was falafel, in spongy soft pita bread, surrounded by gooey labneh/tzatziki! I would have never thought of masal vadai, raita, and naan in the same breath, let alone put it all together in a plate. And yet, it tasted amazing. And today, I made all of them at home for my mahjong group. The pita bread turned out a bit too chewy and tough, so I will post that recipe after I have perfected it and am happy with the results. But following is the recipe for the falafel, and the two dips – tahini dip, and the yogurt sauce which I’ve heard called labneh or tzatziki sauce. Here goes…this lunch was a big hit with my mahjong girls!