- Capital Eats
- Hot biryani in a cold city
Hot biryani in a cold city
We head to Amma’s Biryani where it's modestly priced and beautifully spiced.
Name + address: Amma’s Biryani, 1618 Merivale Rd. (inside Silk Road Foods)
Type of food: Indian
Diet: Vegan, meat, seafood
Wheelchair accessibility: Yes
Tucked inside and towards the back of Silk Road Foods, you’ll find Amma’s Biryani. It’s a spare set up: a counter and a chair for waiting. This is takeaway only food.
Of course, I couldn’t wait and began chowing down in the car but more on that later.
The business began a couple of years ago and soon had a loyal customer base. Little wonder, the food is first rate.
Amma’s has a modest menu but apart from all the behind-the-scenes talent, perhaps this is part of its strength. What they make is memorable and you don’t miss a broad variety of options.
Biryani is a rice dish originating either from Iran or India/Pakistan, depending on the online sources you view. I’m inclined to view it as a harmonization of both Iranian and South Asian flavours and while I’ve not had biryani throughout most of the city, I’ve had it plenty often enough and Amma’s version stands out as one of the best in memory.
I ordered the vegetable biryani ($9) and the spices were a symphony of treble and bass notes that came together in waves of crescendos resulting in inelegant groans of appreciation. I was glad to have been on my own in the car.
That portion alone was enough to feed two as a single meal or a party of four if using it as a side dish. The long grain rice was fluffy, not overcooked and every vegetable felt impregnated with seasoning. There was a small accumulation of heat but I can also recommend ordering kachumber salad, a cooling melange of cucumber, sweet onion, tomato and herbs that offers a delightful contrast. You’ll be advised to mix the two and it really is delicious.
Karahi wings. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout
At this point I felt I was on a low simmer but then jumped straight into the proverbial frying pan with the Karahi wings ($13).
These wings had been stewed in a very spicy tomato curry. I can’t blame anyone for not enjoying the rubbery skin when chicken wings have been stewed. That didn’t stop me however from enjoying the sauce on the skins which I then discarded.
That deep and endless umami effect and the slowly building fire in my mouth created a synergy which I couldn’t help but seek out over and over. I carried out this particular experiment at home so a beer was the proper tonic for the heat. It’s far too early to say but these may be on the short list for best wings of the year.
What a big flavour way to start the new year. The food at Amma’s is something you’ll want to revisit many times this year and just remember that the shrimp and fish biryanis are available only on Fridays and Saturdays respectively.