Beyond the legendary and regular Tiffin restaurants doling out idlis, vadas and dosas there is a thriving “Donne Biryani” culture in Bangalore. Served in large leafy cups called “Donne” – this Biryani does not trace its roots to the Mughals or the Nizams. Cooked slowly in traditional home ground spices, it seems to have originated as an easy nutritious option for the masses or perhaps the soldiers. After a reassuring appointment with the doctor about my travel beaten knee, I hopped over to Gundappa Donne Biryani in the vicinity.
It was just about lunch time and they were yet to start serving. I settled for the Gundappa Thali after a quick glance at the menu which included Biryani Rice, 5 different sides and raita. This was the best way to taste all that they had to offer.
The thali was a riot of colors and with the names of dishes (Chilly Chicken, Guntur Chicken, Pepper Chicken) that the staff rattled out, it appeared that I was in for a roller coaster ride with spice. I started off with chicken kabab gorged in red color and not chilly powder as I was anticipating. The chicken was soft but the flavour was only skin deep since the pieces were dipped in some red colored batter and then deep fried. After the seemingly unimpressive chicken kabab, moved on to the biryani topped with a slice of egg. The pudina flavored Biryani made from jeeraga samba rice (small grained) was moist, sticky and had the distinct aroma of cardamom and cinnamon that tasted better with a dash of lime.
Next it was the turn of the 3 chicken sides, each one adding a different flavor to the Biryani. The blackish pepper chicken was the it usually is and mint and pepper did a brief tango before resting in my stomach.The Chilly chicken cooked purely in green chillies without any soya was an eye opener. I gasped with the fire on my tongue quickly quietened by the curd in the raita. Loved this green chilly powered chicken with a slightly watery gravy and maybe I will go back for more.
The fiery red guntur chicken tickled my tongue but not to the extent to gulp down glasses of water. It did not have the aroma of freshly ground roasted red as expected from the name. I doubt whether the red chilly powder actually came from the famous spice markets of Guntur in neighboring Andhra Pradesh.I munched into the crunchy mutton keema vada saved up for the last bite to counter the famous guntur spice. As I devoured the vada, I realised how the Bangalore special Donne Biryani was enhanced by a pepper chicken and guntur chicken with roots in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. The kabab, chilly chicken and minced meat vada has evolved under the influence of food cultures from other parts of India. It is so true for the spirit of Bangalore which is home to different languages, different food cultures from all over India !!
Located on a busy Koramangala Street; this is not a place for a cosy meal. Its a stop, eat, go kind of place where food served on green leaves is the most important thing. The staff were cordial and made me instantly comfortable. If your idea of Biryani relates to long grained flavoured rice, please avoid this place. If you are someone who loves to experiment and learn about food, its origin and culture, this is the place to visit !!