6 March 2016

Biryani & Beyond at Paradise

           A name that's synonymous with Biryani, Paradise has come a long way since its humble inception as a annexe to a movie theatre in Secunderabad, in 1953, and continues to flourish..As per their website, the Paradise outlet at Indiranagar, Bangalore is their first outing beyond Hyderabad! From there, the chain hasn't looked back and recently opened its 5th outlet at JP Nagar.
            Located right at the junction of 24th Main Road, opposite the Durga Parmeshwari grounds and near RV Dental College, it's practically difficult to miss :) Add to that, its iconic facade, right down to the signature lattice work; anyone familiar with the brand would spot the place from miles away!!
                 I had the opportunity to sample the world-famous Paradise biryani as part of the 23rd FBAB (Food Bloggers Association of Bangalore) meet The team ushered us to the 2nd floor for our tasting session (seating is available at 2 levels and according to the staff, this place can seat up to 240 people). 
             The decor is simple, tasteful, and their spice-jar arrangments, which I call the "Masala bars"(Can I trademark this :) ) are quite eye-catching. 
                    We settled down and soon the goodies on a platter started arriving. Starting with the starters... 
                     The Veg Kebab platter was as colourful and appealing as it gets. It consisted of Veg and peanuts Kebab, Hariyali Paneer Tikka, and Tandoori Paneer Tikka with a little salad on the side. The paneer in both its variations was quite succulent and well-marinated. The Hariyali version gets my double vote though as the other one was comparatively bit bland, could have been spicier.
                     The 'Subz and Moongphali' kebabs were soft and just the right amount of spicy. However, I personally was not in favour of the generous use of peanuts, as it over-powered the flavour and impact of the rest of the stuffing.
                     The other starters served - Spicy Veg manchurian, Chili Paneer & Salt and Pepper Potatoes were good too (Clockwise - top, bottom left and bottom right)...Chinese offerings in a Hyderabadi menu, quite interesting. It does add to the Veg Starter number and would definitely appeal to the spice-loving foodies. The fried potatoes however did not appeal to me much as I found it akin to a regular fried potato curry. It may not be on my repeat list sadly.
                  Moving on to the highlight of the evening, Biryani! We were served both the Non-veg and Veg varieties. Much has been and will be said about the Non-veg offerings, but I shall write here for my co-vegetarians and/or non-meat eaters :) 
                 The long-grain rice formed the top-layer in the serving handi with the vegetable masala found in its depths. After a gentle stir, serve, the first morsel tasted, the spices, soft-cooked vegetables and the aroma of the rice (which was cooked just about right, i.e, neither rubbery nor too soft, which was awesome) was a treat to the senses. While others preferred an additional gravy accompaniment, I was happy to finish off my portion as is.                        And I must mention their special raita, which was thankfully not the usual fare of whipped curd and sliced onions. It had a nice and spicy flavour to it, one of those raitas that we would like to finish off on its own and not just to help finish off the rice !! So my veggie friends, rest assured that you need not feel left-out in this Biryani Paradise as there's enough to spoil you.
                They did bring in Rotis and gravies, but then, reviewing Paradise, Biryani takes precedence!! Though I sincerely wished to sample it too, I wanted to leave some space for the much spoken about desserts!!
                 And arrive they did!! Like moths to the flame, we couldn't help but feast our eyes on the sweet offerings before the camera lenses took over!! This section I shall talk about in detail, as desserts are close to my heart. :)
1. Falooda - Strawberry flavoured, generously layered with the soft Basil /Sabja seeds, topped off with Strawberry ice-cream and mildly sweet. If a Falooda could blush, this would be it!!
2. Gulab Jamun - The eternal and ubiquitous favourite, soft (could be softer), generously shaped and served with just the right amount of syrup as the latter tends to get wasted anyway. 
3. Gajar Halwa - Now comes the heavier stuff! The Gajar halwa was simply melt-in-the-mouth quality. Drenched in khoya, juicy to the core, the carrot was cooked to perfection and the sweetness factor was sufficient, at least to my palate. Any sweeter and it would have been difficult to finish. (Bottom right)
4. Double ka meetha - This was the much talked about and recommended dessert. A spoonful of it and I understood why! A delectable and traditional dessert made of bread and flavoured with cardamom, saffron and garnished with nuts. I had a tough time deciding which one I wanted to devour first, this or its Carrot counterpart :) (Top left)
5. Khubani ka Meetha - Another traditional dish, juicy and stewed apricots floating in Vanilla ice cream,this one gets a big thumbs-up from me! (Bottom left)
Verdict - Enjoy the starters, satisfy your biryani craving but leave enough space for the dessert, it would be criminal to finish your meal here without that. 
               Paradise at JP Nagar have everything going positive for them, the 'cannot miss' location, valet parking, sufficient seating and great food. A tip re getting a place here though, best to arrive early; as while leaving I noticed quite a crowd waiting to be seated. That alone would speak for the brand and place's popularity! 
              This outlet still being in its nascent stages, the initial gathering would quite ideally be for the brand. What will eventually draw people back to it or attract new fans will be word-of-mouth praise, sustaining the quality of food and service, and where possible, close-to-the-roots innovations to tempt its clientele to try new offerings. I personally will be quite pleased to see all of the above & more, and wish the brand and its outlets a great success.


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