Pakistan terror boat: How biryani is always a threat to national security

Aditya Menon
Aditya MenonFeb 18, 2015 | 22:02

Pakistan terror boat: How biryani is always a threat to national security

Among all the dishes one eats, there is nothing as cold, maligned and tasteless as biryani. So when you walk into Paradise in Hyderabad, Idris in Lucknow, Nizam or Aminia in Kolkata, or even put the "dum" for a Sunday meal in your own house, remember that you are engaging in an act of high treason. (There is no decent biryani in Delhi. But that deserves a separate rant.)


When DIG Coast Guard BK Loshali ordered the suspected "terror boat" off the coast of Porbandar to be blown up on December 31, the reason he gave wasn't so much to do with national security. His peeve was biryani. "I was there at Gandhinagar and I told them blow the boat up. We don't want to serve them Biryani," he said. Of course, many now say that the "terror boat" itself was khayali pulao.

Perhaps the people on the boat could have survived if they had pleaded to Loshali: "But we only wanted some Appam-stew (*puppy face*)". But it isn't just Loshali. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi is part of the anti-biryani brigade.

In May 2013, he invoked this seditious dish while accusing the UPA government of going soft on Pakistan. He said, "Our soldiers are being beheaded. But the Pakistan prime minister is being served chicken biryani".

To be honest, for once I am in complete agreement with Modi. Feeding anyone chicken biryani is a despicable idea. Even a vegetarian Gujarati like him knows that real biryani has to be mutton. Even an enemy deserves to eat the real thing.


When journalist Shivam Vij signed a petition asking Ajmal Kasab to be spared the gallows in 2013, he invited the ire of right wing trolls. Vij was immediately labelled as an "anti-national biryani lover" as his Twitter bio read, "Will do anything for a good biryani". Of course contrary to popular beliefs, Kasab was never given biryani in jail.

What is it about biryani that ultra-nationalists are just not able to digest?

After being attacked for his love of biryani, Vij, a proud Lakhnavi, suggested that it is an attempt to police the dietary habits of Hindus.

Perhaps, this hatred also stems from right-wingers' own gastronomic deprivation. Who knows many of the vegetarian, halwa-poori eating Virat Hindus may harbour a hidden fantasy to dig into this yummy combination of meat, rice and spices.

Also, the creation of imagined enemies is central to RSS drills, so maybe indoctrinating a hatred for biryani helps the shakha-organisers get away with the standard puri-aloo fare without any protestations from hungry knickerwalas.

But more than the Hindutva brigade's gastronomic gharwapsi drive, it is the food industry that has truly caused irreparable harm to biryani. What is more insulting than any of the abuses hurled at this dish by the saffron brigade is the very concept of veg biryani (which doesn't even have saffron, by the way). I am willing to tolerate Chicken Biryani for the sake of freedom of speech. But veg biryani amounts to playing with my religious sentiments. And Pizza Hut has added insult to injury by coming up with Birizza - biryani flavoured pizza if you please.


I sincerely believe that lovers of biryani must come together to fight the enemies of Biryaniyat, each one of them from the Hindu right wing, to the DIG Coast Guard, Pizza Hut and even the terrible Moradabadi biryani stalls that have sprouted across Delhi. As the song goes, "Aa dekhein zara, kismay kitna hai dum".

Last updated: February 18, 2015 | 22:02
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