Most of us in India have grown up perceiving biryani as a dish with a strong yellow colour. In present days, it’s less of saffron and more of the yellow edible colour. And if it is the Kolkata aloo anda biryani, then it accompanies a strong kewra essence, too. So, for someone like me, who grew up on a good dose of the yellow coloured and kewra flouvered biryani, it was a welcome change and love at first taste, when my palates met donne biryani. I had no clue about donne biryani until a few years ago when I was having a meal with a Malayali gentleman. I was so awestruck with the taste that I forgot to ask about it. I mistook it to be the Mooplah biryani from the northern part of Kerala. I learned about my mistake, when I recently went for a meal in Sanadige in Malacha Market, a restaurant, serving coastal food. While talking to its owner, Gaurav Shetty, a steward inquired him, what he would have for dinner? And, Gaurav, who is a health freak, gave a two word answer, ”donne biryani!”. Till then, I had no clue that it is the same biryani. I was also telling myself that that this donne biryani must be one special dish that even a fitness freak such as Gaurav is interested in eating, although it is a rich dish.
The conversation wavered to Gaurav’s hotel management student days, his journey as an hotelier, becoming one of the youngest managing directors in the country and how he has inherited his food genes from his mother, who takes special interest in cooking despite being busy with the management of their group — Goldfinch hotels. All this while, Sanadige’s Donne Biryani was getting ready in its kitchen to give me a surprise.
Sanadige is essentially a coastal restaurant; it serves choicest sea-food from the Western ghats — Goa, Maharashtra, Mangalore region and Kerala. The Delhi Sanadige is a standalone restaurant and also has some popular tandoori and north Indian dishes in its menu. Sanadige’s menu is a seafood lover’s delight, and you cannot miss the Mangalorean dominance in it, case in point are dishes such as nati kori (chicken) curry, kori stew, kori kundapuri, Mangalorean mutton curry, yetti (prawn) sukka, yetti pudina fry and jenji (crab) ghee roast to name a few.
Talking about Gaurva’s panache in hospitality, he ensured that there is a bit of self in Sanadige’s menu, so he added an invention of his own called the Elaneer Payasam to it. One of the stewards in the restaurant was telling me that guests sometime come only for the payasam. It is a combination of the coconut cream and the pulp of tender coconut, and trusts me it is indeed heavenly.
Talking about other heavenly dishes, the prawn ghee roast was mind-boggling, served as a starter, the succulent prawns with the eclectic mix of spices such as tamarind powder, dry red chilli, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds in a pool of piping ghee is addictive.
All this while, I was happily munching away the superb Mangalorean starters, not aware that my new love of life, donne chicken biryani was waiting for me in the main course. It was the befitting end to a great evening; I could not believe as I opened the cover of the chafing dish, there it was piping hot donne biryani. Only, then I realised, the mint-based biryani that I have been in awe of for so long is called donne biryani. The spices, coriander, mint leaves with ghee gives out an amazing aroma. Later, I found on the internet that ‘donne’ translates to big cups made from eco friendly palm leaves.
A heartfelt thanks to Sanadige for making me meet the new love of my life donne biryani.