There's a reason most Indian restaurants in the Bay Area serve cruddy biryani: A good version takes time. Time to mix up the spice masala, marinate the meat, prepare the basmati rice. Time to build up the biryani in the pot, layer by layer, and slowly cook it over low heat (a cooking process called dum).
Once you've made up a big batch of biryani, it should be eaten then, not reheated to order, as most restaurants do. Which is why a biryani food truck makes sense.
Rupam Bhagat, owner of Dum, is only two months into his new life handing biodegradable containers of San Francisco's best chicken biryani out the window of a roving kitchen. Before quitting his job in January to move to the Bay Area, the Culinary Institute of America-trained chef traveled the world for the Ritz-Carlton - Portugal, Bahrain, Florida, Arizona.
"I'm from Bombay, and Bombay is a melting pot like San Francisco," he says of his recipe. He combined regional styles from North and South India with his mother's own recipe.
The result? His rice, to mangle Walt Whitman, contains multitudes. Every grain is a different color, shading from cream to russet, depending on its place in the cooking vessel. Some bites are dominated by caramelized onions. Others by an herbaceous burst of cilantro and mint.
The best bites: the ones containing bites of chicken thigh, coated densely with spices and dabs of Bhagat's boondi raita, tiny chickpea-flour balls suspended in tart yogurt seasoned with cumin and black salt.... Read More