I’m on the briyani trail again. This time in Northern California.
The Sunnyvale/San Jose area has a big population of Indian expatriates working in the IT industry, and there is a big selection of Indian restaurants. I went online to see opinions about the best briyani in the area, and a couple of restaurants always received the best ratings.
I decided to try one of them, Taste Buds, which uses halal meat.
The manager, Ram, told me that the cook is from Hyderabad, and the briyani is Hyderabad briyani cooked dum style, which is the authentic way of cooking briyani. In the dum method, a layer of rice is alternated with a layer of briyani spices and meat. The layers are repeated, then the pot is tightly covered and cooked over a low fire to fully integrate the flavors.
The goat briyani was rather good: the flavors were more subtle, buttery and fragrant. If there was one complaint, the meat was a little dry.
What turned out to be the winner, though, was the fish curry. So far, it was closest to the Southern Indian fish curry that I enjoy in Singapore and Malaysia. This style of fish curry has a delectable tang to it.
I think the Southern Indian fish curry in Singapore and Malaysia has been a little “Malayanised” or “localized” to suit the local flavors or taste. It has a complex, bold taste with that unmistakable tang. Roti prata (or roti canai as it is called in Malaysia), a grilled flour pancake, eaten with freshly cooked fish curry is one of my favorite breakfasts. You have to try it if you are in this region.
Well, Back to California: Taste Bud’s fish curry was very satisfying. Ram explained that the restaurant makes its own curry spices from scratch. I also like that they use sea bass for the curry. Quite a few restaurants use tilapia which is the least costly fish but tastes rather flat in curries.
On another visit, I sampled a few other dishes, and another clear winner was the bindi/okra masala. The okra was cooked just to the right texture. An interesting appetizer that found its way to the table was the egg bajji which is boiled eggs dipped in chickpea flour and deep fried. Egg lovers would certainly enjoy this dish.
Ram also recommended another of their specialities, the chilli shrimp appetizer. I’ve yet to try it, but I will visit Taste Buds gain as the restaurant scored high points for good food at very reasonable prices.
To read about my favorite briyani place in Southern California, more at http://buildingbridgesworld.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/big-on-briyani/