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Biriyani s'il te plaît…

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

If I tell someone that on my first trip to Montreal, I had chicken Biriyani for dinner on the first night, I technically give them the license to ridicule me for life.

To put things into perspective, Montreal is Canada's little version of Paris. It even has a river, the St Lawrence River making the resemblance to its twin city, undisputed.

Everyone speaks French and every second shop in the old city quarters is an art gallery. The women are slim and very fashionably dressed carrying their branded purses in one hand & their properly groomed pooches in lavish leashes in the other, as they walk the cobbled streets of old Montreal in their stilettoes. The men are equally matched looking like they have just walked out of Paris Fashion week. The city is filled with 16th century cathedrals and churches. The bells from all the churches join in harmony every hour of the clock making it a surreal experience. To add on, fall is in season and the autumn hues add color to the canvas of this picturesque city. Everything put together, the ambience made us feel we were in a classic old movie.

So, the obvious question arises how on earth could one end up having Biryani in Montreal and that too on the first day! Well to those who are not aware what Biriyani is let me help you. Biriyani is a rice and meat-based dish cooked in its own steam and comparing it to a pilaf would be blasphemy.

The dish originated in Persia and many centuries, invasions, wars, and versions later came to Kolkata (my home), a city in the eastern part of India. I have a suspicion that the spices and the inception of this dish must have had some sort of divine intervention. I say this as the taste of an authentic un-abridged Biriyani, can make most people attain Nirvana (a state of perfect happiness). Now the million-dollar question still remains as to how did we choose to have Biriyani after imbibing the European charm of Montreal?

The story goes like this. We were exhausted from walking around the city. My Apple watch was ecstatic that I had overachieved my daily move goal, walked 19000 steps and lost over 800 calories (a personal best). So, it is in the human nature or to be more specific my Bengali nature to justify a good day’s workout with the forbidden food and Biriyani falls into that category. More so we wanted to feel connected and comforted in the new city. In addition, my Apple watch had assured me that I have had enough adventure for one day and I did not want to be adventurous with my food. I took a risk and ordered Chicken Dum Biriyani on Uber Eats. I verified that the pictures provided on the website looked authentic. Food was delivered by a French person after 90 mins. For the first time in my life, I was happy that there was a delay in delivering food as it assured me that they must have prepared it fresh from scratch. We ordered two jumbo biriyanis and Diet Coke (to help with the guilt). Within an hour both of us had attained Nirvana. It was the best Biriyani we have had since we left India. The restaurant was owned by Pakistani immigrants, and they knew what they were doing. It was a perfect end to a perfect day in Montreal.

This experience is a testament to how unique and culturally diverse Canada is. You get very pleasantly surprised here. I can confidently say that Canada is the only country where you can have such distinctly diverse experiences in the same day and make a memory for life. People bring their own cultural heritage and contribute to the cauldron of society. What brings us together here is humanity which forms the common thread of this beautifully diverse country. Discovering an almost perfect version of a favorite dish from home in a French speaking city 10000 miles away is truly special. My love for Biriyani is eternal and finding something familiar in an unfamiliar city is what true adventure is about.

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What a blessing to have shared that experience - thank you for putting thoughts to paper so we could share a small piece of your journey.


Satyajit Das
Satyajit Das
Nov 27, 2021

Nicely written. Please write more often. Got your card from Montreal- touched!

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