Dining

Rice Is Nice

Biryani made the old-fashioned way

Let's get this straight: Biryani is not Indian fried rice.

You might think otherwise, given the versions most restaurants in America serve. Not at Paradise Biryani Pointe, where this elaborate feast-day specialty is given its due.

The first California branch of a New Jersey franchise modeled on a famous restaurant in Central India, Paradise Biryani Pointe serves Indo-Chinese dishes and familiar curries. But every diner in the restaurant is eating dum biryani.

For each of the four versions (goat, chicken, egg and vegetable), the cooks carefully layer rice and marinated meats or vegetables in a large pot, then seal the pot and cook it over low heat for several hours. The chef scoops each portion out of the pot as it's ordered.

When your goat biryani ($13) arrives, the top scattered with fried onions and a few orange-tinted grains, it looks like a simple bowl of rice. Beautiful rice, to be sure--half-inch-long strands of basmati, each grain chewy and distinct.

Dig beneath the surface, and up come caramelized onions, chunks of tender meat, and a spice masala so potent that it seems to whiz through your nerve endings, all the way from your tongue to your fingertips.

Paradise Biryani Pointe, 2961 El Camino Real, Santa Clara; 408-800-1542 or cabiryani.com

Paradise Biryani Pointe 2961 El Camino Real Santa Clara CA 95051 408-800-1542

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