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Paradise Gained


The famed Paradise Food Court has finally made its way to NCR with minor changes to the menu to please the obstinate Delhi palate

The popular tale goes thus: Biryani – the melting pot of flavours — originated in Persia and was brought to India by the Mughals. It was then developed in their kitchens. Though its origin is contentious, food historians argue that the dish is an Indian invention; a derivative of pulao or pilaf that was brought to the country by Arab traders. While the dish refashions itself from region to region, Hyderabadi biryani is one of the more popular versions of the dish. It is said that this interpretation came about when Emperor Aurangzeb appointed Niza-ul-Mulk as the new ruler of Hyderabad. Unlike other variants of biryani, where the taste of the flavoured meat dominates, the famed Hyderabadi biryani allows the saffron-infused rice to preside over other ingredients. Rice and meat are layered on top of each other and left on “dum” or to slow cook in a dough sealed vessel for hours.

In a country where everyone has their own favoured version of the dish, Paradise Food Court has been credited by its loyal patrons for preserving the dish’s “authenticity” and ensuring its “popularity” in the southern regions of the country. It started its life as a small 100 seater restaurant cum provision store in 1953 in Secunderabad, then Andhra Pradesh. At the time, it would only sell tea and snacks to the Paradise Cinema goers but is now best known for its Hyderabadi dishes, though Chinese and Continental victuals also find place on their menus. The biryani chain is currently on an expansion rampage, with its most recent launch at Raheja Mall on Gurgaon’s Sohna Road on Monday.

With restaurants cropping up in Bengaluru in 2015 and Chennai in 2016, this launch marks their first restaurant in North India . “The cross-flow of people from those parts of the country where Paradise is known is more in Gurgaon than other parts of NCR. So, we decided to set up our first restaurant in Gurugram. We opened a restaurant in Whitefields in Bengaluru on the same principle and we didn’t have to advertise to attract crowds at all. We hope the same happens here,” says Ali Hemanti, Chairman, Paradise Food Court, who took over the management from his uncle Ghulam Hussain in 1978.

While they’ve ventured into the Northern region with much gusto and are hoping to cash in on their six decade-long reputation, they are aware that the Delhite’s palate is a well-accustomed one, sometimes with little room for experimentation. “We haven’t made major changes to the menu and are aiming at standardisation along with expansion. However, based on qualitative research that we carried out, we have identified some quintessential north Indian dishes such as dal makhni, butter chicken and veg biryani and added them to our menu. We realised that some of these dishes are an integral part of the eating-out experience of North Indians and we have to meet those expectations in order to thrive,” says Gautam Gupta, CEO of the restaurant.

Growth in the territory is on the cards but since the brand has just stepped foot into the Northern region, its employees are tight-lipped about further expansion plans in Delhi-NCR. Another well-meditated move that is likely to shape up is the expansion of the brand beyond Indian borders, “Once we have spread around the country, we will expand to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Eastward, we’re looking to venture into Malaysia and Singapore,” says Hemanti.

Source: Indian Express

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