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Biryani Feast Feast empire-biryani
Biryani Feast Feast empire-biryani 8th October Jackfruit & Mushroom Biryani
Biryani Feast Feast empire-biryani 8th October Venison & Berry Biryani
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Dum Biryani

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For the centrepiece of Empire Biryani’s latest menu, choose between two of the restaurant’s renowned biryanis, created especially for Autumn – venison and berry, or pulled jackfruit and button mushroom.

“We’re using British venison in our latest biryani, to celebrate game season,” says founder Harneet Baweja, “we use several different parts of the meat, which we mince and cook with onion, ginger, tomato and lots of warming, aromatic spices including cinnamon, cloves, cumin, turmeric and cardamom”. This spicy, savoury meat is interspersed with pops of sweet, juicy dried cranberries, which have been soaked overnight with saffron. It sits on a bed of golden pilau rice and is topped with a crisp pastry lid, scattered with chilli flakes and fragrant fennel seeds.

For the vegetarian alternative, Harneet uses jackfruit and mushrooms. “Jackfruit is great in a biryani because it's so meaty in texture,” says Harneet, “the way we cook it, you wouldn’t know the difference between that and mutton or lamb!” He marinates the jackfruit in North Indian-inspired spices before cooking with onions, button mushrooms and tomato, then shredding to create the texture of pulled meat. It’s layered with fragrant pilau rice and sealed with flaky, seed-studded pastry.

From start to finish, the delicate cooking process of the the restaurant’s biryanis takes 36 hours. The difficulty, Harneet explains, lies with timing it perfectly so that the rice is soft and the meat is succulent but holds its bite. With so many timings to balance, pastry isn’t typically a focus – instead, a combination of flour and water is often used to give ‘dum’ (seal and steam) to the biryani, but Empire Biryani brings pastry to the fore by creating an edible shortcrust. This flaky, golden lid can be torn and used to scoop up the contents – “that’s what sets our biryanis apart”, says Harneet.