Donne Biryani: The Popular Rice and Meat dish from Bangalore served in Dried Leaf Cups

Usually, the names of biryani varieties are prefixed by the places of their origin, like Hyderabadi, Awadhi, Kolkata, and Ambur. An exception is Donne Biryani the most popular biryani of Bangalore, which gets its name from the dried leaf cup or bowl known locally as Donne in which it is served.

Donne Biryani at Maa Ooru Biryani, Hyderabad

Donne Biryani is in high demand all over Bengaluru and neighbouring districts of Karnataka, and it is the local military hotels that have made it famous. The first few such hotels were essentially small eateries set up for Maratha soldiers in the seventeenth century to enjoy some economical non-vegetarian food. Over time, these places catered to the soldiers of Tipu Sultan as well as the British army. Even now, Shivaji Military Hotel and Ranganna Military Hotel are some of the popular places in Bengaluru where food lovers scamper to for their fill of this biryani.

This biryani is actually more of a pulav where rice and marinated meat are cooked with green masala and basic spices on firewood or coal.  The rice used is short-grained and aromatic jeera samba, which is common in many biryani variants of South India, and known as Chitti Mutyalu in the Telugu states. The dish is available in variants of mutton and chicken, though I have not come across a version with beef so far. 

Shivaji Military Hotel, Bengaluru

Also read: Ambur Biryani

Donne biryani is not a complicated dish. The basic spices used are coriander, cumin, whole garam masalas as well as ginger and garlic paste. The green masala has quite a bit of mint leaves, green chillies and sometimes a little coriander leaves too. The flavourful rice adds to the taste of the dish which is often served with a spicy gravy and onions spiked with curd.  Even the aroma from the donne in which it is served has a role in its flavours. The biryani is a simple and economical rice and meat dish for the masses, which is easy on the pocket as well as the tummy. 

In Hyderabad, Maa Ooru Biryani at Kukatpally is perhaps the only place serving Donne Biryani.  Rachin and Priya Katti set up this restaurant in 2015, and this biryani is their fastest moving item on the menu. As per Rachin, who is originally from Bangalore, the meat stock in which the biryani is prepared and the mint tempered masala provide a distinctive taste to the dish.  The restaurant offers the chicken and mutton variants of the biryani and even a vegetarian version with carrots and beans. Their customers range from IT professionals to local traders, and many regulars drop in quite a few times in a week. 

At Rayalaseema Ruchulu, Hyderabad

Rayalaseema Ruchulu, the well-known Telugu restaurant has also added this dish to its menu in the recent times. Chickpet Donne Biryani with branches in Kondapur and Ameerpet is another chain of restaurants where you can enjoy this dish. 

Note: This is an updated version of the article originally published in New Indian Express Hyderabad on 30th December 2018. 

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