Sustainability on a biryani platter

RAVINDRAN1gInside the gazebo-style kitchen of Shabhash Biriyanis in Valasaravakkam, Mudassir, the head cook and biryani expert, deftly scatters coal, lights the firewood and mixes ingredients. Meanwhile, the other staff tirelessly pack countless takeaway boxes.  “We have made sure our takeaway boxes are not plastic. They are made of bagasse, the fibrous remains of sugar cane,” says Thilak, adding, “Bagasse is a sustainable resource. It would be great if more people shift from plastic to this material. It can be recycled and is bio-degradable when exposed to sunlight. So you can also use it as manure for your plants.” It took Thilak a month to find a supplier who could make these containers for her. “I found a factory in Hyderabad but they only export. Luckily, I located a local vendor here. It costs me ₹18 a box. Plastic doesn’t even cost one-fourth of it.”

Outside the kitchen, on the lawn, large quantities of garlic are put out to dry on shallow plates. “We get our garlic from Kodaikanal. Ginger-garlic paste is made in-house every day… one batch in the morning and another in the evening. It’s hand-ground, so is the chilli powder. We use crystal salt…” she adds. The biryaniis cooked in cold-pressed groundnut oil that comes from a farm in Salem. They run through 300 litres a month. “We use country egg. Our meat is farm-fed, free-range goats that we get from a relative’s farm in Kanchipuram,” she says, adding, “People are paying us, so it is our duty to be socially responsible and give them hygienic and high-quality food.”

Read the full article in The Hindu

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