Empire Biryani: Gunpowder’s new delivery service brings a celebration of North Indian flavours to your door
Celebrations have been few and far between over the past year, but this month culinary power couple Harneet Baweja and Devina Seth – founders of Tower Bridge’s popular home-style Indian Kitchen, Gunpowder – have given Londoners a reason to rejoice. Though they can’t offer a large-scale social gathering, their new delivery service Empire Biryani cooks up a tasty morsel of truth: as much as parties are defined by the people, they are defined by the food.
Baweja and Seth’s menu is crafted from a marriage between quality and simplicity, inviting us to indulge in a feast worthy of any Indian wedding without the hours of work. This is not to say the dishes aren’t labour-intensive: inspired by memories of India and celebratory occasions, the plates are prepared fresh every morning, ready to be delivered the same day. The dum biryani itself is available in two options – impossibly tender lamb shank or fragrant, slow-cooked shahi mushroom – and each is the result of 36 hours of preparation, from the gentle steaming of the rice to the addition of a spiced shortcrust pastry topping to bind the flavours (a traditional technique associated with Northern India). All that’s left to do at home is bake the biryani for half an hour in the oven to achieve that delightfully crispy golden top.
Alongside the titular centrepiece, a range of starters and sides are available to finish at home, from the delicately seasoned Achari Aloo Gobi (pickled cauliflower and potatoes) and popular chickpea-based street food dish Masala Chana Aloo Chaat, to Beef Boti – cooked over charcoal in an explosive marinade – and Pepper Chicken Fry. If you’re partial to a classic sauce, we recommend accompanying your meal with either the Hyderabadi Egg Curry or the Paneer Butter Masala, both of which are silky smooth and decadently rich. For a cool refresher, try the Boondi and Kachumber Raita, and then finish with a luxurious and warming dessert, the Triple Chocolate Brownie with cardamom-infused custard.
While the duo is looking forward to reopening the restaurant, Baweja is doing his best to recreate the experience by bringing his beloved biryani to doors across the capital: “I’m delighted to be able to deliver one of my favourite dishes from back home to Londoners. I really miss India but am pleased that everybody can partake in a gastronomic journey from the comfort of their own homes.” All of the dishes are available individually or as part of a sharing selection for a bigger household, with two specially designed DIY feasting kits which can be preordered for delivery across London. The team have even developed a sharing-sized biryani that feeds up to four people – or perhaps two (it’s a party, no one is judging).
Big birthday bashes are off the menu for the time-being but Empire Bryani’s firework display of flavours is a vibrant homage to the little moments worth celebrating.
Photos: Azhul Mohamed
Orders can be made online at www.empirebiryani.com for pre-order delivery to addresses within the M25 and via Deliverioo for same-day delivery within 6 miles of the restaurant.