There are those special days when you crave for biriyani. And not just Ambur biriyani or the Dindigul variety, that you find here. But that absolutely stunning Nawabi style of biriyani that you had with friends on a trip to Hyderabad. That was the time you first tried the Paradise Biryani and it was love at first bite with it. So much so that, every time a friend or relative goes there, you shamelessly ask them to get mutton biriyani from Paradise. But now you need not wait for this! In July 2016, Paradise Biryani opened its first outlet in namma Chennai. If you want to grab a decent table in three-storeyed restaurant at Perungudi in OMR, you need to go in early. On weekends the waiting queue extends till the end of the lane.
As you enter Paradise Biryani, the aroma of biriyani instantly makes you hungry and without even glancing at the menu, we ordered a plate of mutton and chicken biriyani. The long grained flavourful basmati rice soaks in the flavour of the spices and the pieces of mutton are tender and well-cooked. Every spoonful is like a burst of myriad flavours. It is the style of cooking that differentiates the Hyderabadi biriyani from the local variety. It is believed that this style of cooking, known as ‘dum’ came from Persia during the regime of Mughals in the country. The Nizams were great patrons of rich food. That was the reason during their regime, the biryani and its many variations spread to all over the Deccan region and Andhra Pradesh. The biriyani is served with a spicy mirchi ka salan, quite different from the onion raitha and brinjal gravy that Chennaiites are used to.
The beginnings of Paradise were small and no one anticipated such worldwide renown. The restaurant had its origins in 1953 in a small canteen that served as an annex to the then popular Paradise movie theatre in Secunderabad. Started by G Hussain, the café served Irani chai, coffee and snacks which became instantly popular. The next decade witnessed the café transform into a 100-seater restaurant serving typical Hyderabadi cuisine including the biryani. General and baked food items were also sold. The defining moment, however, came when A. Hemati took over the reins of Paradise Biryani in 1978. A consummate visionary, Hemati set about reimagining the restaurant to suit the evolving food habits of people. In 1983, Paradise Persis, an air-cooled multi-cuisine restaurant opened on the first floor of the café. In 1987, the theatre closed down, but the Paradise brand continued to rise owing to the growing popularity of their cuisine. Rest as they say is history. Today they own 16 outlets across Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai.