Every time there is a discussion on the best places for Biryani in and around Calcutta, there would be quite a few vouching strongly for either Dada Boudi of Barrackpore or Asma of Baruipore. Situated on the northern and southern fringes of Greater Calcutta respectively, these are places few from the main city have actually visited. So, most accept their inclusion to the top list without much argument.
Our plan to visit these two, though was made quite a few years back, kept on delaying for some reason or the other. Finally, one fine Saturday afternoon, we boarded an auto rickshaw from Dunlop and began our journey to Barrackpore and the famous Dada Boudir Hotel. A 30 minutes ride took us to the S.N. Banerjee Road / B.T. Road crossing (Barrackpore Chiriyamore), the last stop for the auto. The road to our right, going towards the station, is the one we took.
Dada Boudir Hotel is a small makeshift, roadside hotel opposite the Barrackpore Railway Station. It is like any other shack found near railway stations. But the Biryani it serves, helped it grow popular. From what we heard, the Biryani is famous mainly for three reasons. One, the amount served is huge. Not only rice, the potato and meat pieces are huge too. Two, it is spicy and rich in taste. Have also heard that it is jhaal (hot). Three, the price is very pocket friendly. No doubt something like this will be a huge hit, specially if situated near a railway station.
The popularity of Dada Boudir Hotel have reached such height, that, we heard, one has to stand in queue for hours to get his turn. Their old outlet have still been kept like it used to be with basic seating arrangements. And an year ago they have opened a new outlet nearby, with AC facilities and multi-floor seating arrangements. Our plan was to dine in at the new outlet and pack food from the old.
The new outlet looked big from outside. The sitting is on the first, second and third floors. The third floor however is an extension and not full sized. When we entered, however, we found the sitting area inside is not very big and the space is cramped. They operate on shared table concept and the first floor, which was already full when we entered, was looking like a marriage dining hall, trying to accommodate a sudden rush of invitees, who are in a hurry and terribly hungry too. Not a great scene if you plan to dine here with your family. We understood their plan is to serve as many people as they can, rather create a better dining experience in the new outlet. When we were leaving, the first and second floors were nearly empty and looked much better. So ambiance will vary from good to horrible according to your luck.
We climbed up to the third floor, which can be termed as an extension of an attic. The ambiance here was marginally better, though be aware of the uneven floor and the slippery tiles used in the ramp (who uses slippery tiles in a ramp!). Occupying the table on the corner (a three seater), so that we don’t have to share it, we ordered a Mutton Biryani and one Chicken Reshmi Kebab (most of the kebabs listed on the menu was not available). The person taking our order was a friendly guy and he was trying his best. We were told the kebab will take some time, and hence asked to serve the biryani first. After 10 minutes they both came together, though that was not an issue with us.
The Biryani! Finally!! The famous Dada Boudir Biryani!!! Our mouths were salivating and we could hardly wait to dig into it. The portion was huge with large pieces of potato and meat. Reason one is true then.
The Biryani looked very oily though. We took the first mouthful and realised, the excess oil have killed the taste. Either they serve oily biryani, or they have served from the bottom of the deg. Whatever the reason might be, they have completely ruined our experience. The biryani was spicy and jhaal (hot) too, to some extent. Sans that excess oil it would have been a decent one. So reason two is true, but only partially.
The Chicken Reshmi Kebab pieces were large and flavourful. However the meat was not soft and quite chewy. So the overall experience was not good. There are lots of lesser known places who will make a better kebab any day.
The prices in the menu were inclusive of all taxes, and a plate of mutton biryani cost us 200 bucks. Even considering the huge amount of rice served (which actually doesn’t make sense, as you won’t be able to share with only one piece of meat), we are unable to call this place pocket-friendly. If we consider other popular Biryani places, almost everywhere you will get mutton biryani below 200 including taxes (and for most of the places an egg, which you won’t find here). And the ambiance and service of most of them are far better than Dada Boudi Restaurant. Add to that nowhere will you have to share tables. And the places, were you will have to, cost much less.
In all this is a pretty ordinary place. We don’t know yet, if this is the best option in Barrackpore (will try more places in the neighbourhood soon), but it’s definitely not worth travelling for. Heart broken we started moving towards our second destination of the day – the original outlet or the Dada Boudi Hotel. What we found there? Click here to read about that.