The air is filled with the aroma of it. Men, women and children; some burqa clad and some elegantly dressed. Some are already seated on the chairs with a bored expression while others are standing on one leg, slouching to one side, waiting for their rightful place. They are all eagerly longing for a plate for mutton biriyani. You are right, it’s a Muslim wedding reception.
The bride and the groom are on the first floor, elegantly dressed up and have a weary look on their faces. Greeting those unknown people and flashing a fake smile makes it even worse after standing in attention for two long hours. A long queue is leading to the bride and groom. Getting a chance to congratulate the couple after a long wait is like getting a ticket to the dining area on the ground floor, swarmed with people waiting to dig into the piping hot mutton biriyani.
My friends are restless, so am I. We spy on the guest’s plates. They are frustratingly slow in finishing their biriyani, while others are on the lookout for a second serving of biriyani and payasam that comes along with a bun. After sliding in between chairs and creepily standing behind some guests, we find a place. The plates are placed swiftly. Our eyes are in their full efficiency like a 360-degree CCTV camera, searching for the elusive plate of mutton biriyani. The string hoppers (idiyappam) arrives, we gesture our hand in unison, signifying ‘NO’. Next, the brinjal gravy and the bread arrives – Nope. Only Biriyani and Chicken gravy.
The biriyani arrives, to be served in our plate. The biryani travel from a huge cauldron to a big vessel and then transferred to a plate that can be served with a piece of mutton. We dig in to the piping hot biriyani. The meat is tender and flavorful and the rice with a chewy texture.
After all the waiting and chit chatting, we are suspiciously silent. Instead, we get busy devouring the delicious items on our plates, relishing them silently and mindfully. My friends have their own way of pairing with the onion raitha and the brinjal gravy with a piece of mutton. I prefer to have my Mutton Biriyani plainly, with a piece of chicken and gravy to accompany the rice.