The moment I start thinking I’ve tried every Indian restaurant in Houston my Indian friends introduce me to yet another. They were excited to take me to Biryani Pot, a place specializing in its namesake, biryani, a spicy rice dish typically made with mutton or goat. They explained along the way that this would be a Hyderabadi biryani, which apparently is different in terms of the spices and cooking method. I smiled and nodded since I had no basis, not having tasted a biryani before, more hot pepper is all a remembered and that was enough to sell me.
The manager explained that Biryani Pot is a small chain; its 6 locations are in Texas and New Jersey. The location in Houston, and apparently all the others, are known for being located in high-traffic strip malls and for being ‘bare bones’ in atmosphere. Its definitely casual, comfortable, small and insanely busy. There will be a line. I’ve been twice for lunch, once mid-week, another time Friday. On Friday there were 20 people waiting for a table. Luckily it went quickly, 15 minutes; they are geared up for high turnaround.
Biryani is a rice dish but the rice seemed more like vermicelli both visually and in texture. Soft, almost melt in your mouth but loaded with flavour. Hot chili is the dominant spice but traces of turmeric, cumin and curry leaves were detectable.
For lunch you can get biryani on its own or as part of a lunch special with several other items; the lunch special is ordered either veg or non-veg. I went non-veg and enjoyed chicken biryani (whole pieces), chicken korma, tandoori chicken, chili moong dal and salad. All were excellent and you have to love the old school lunch tray delivery.
On a second trip I tried my favorite Indian dish, Vindaloo. I learned from the manager that Vindaloo is derived from a Portuguese dish, which is apparently often the case for dishes hailing from the Indian state of Goa. Whatever its roots, the Vindaloo here tops all others I’ve had, its hot chili, vinegar and garlic-ginger flavours command high attention; the chicken was fall apart tender and juicy.
They are almost always at capacity with a line but surprisingly the service here is fast. For lunch the order and out cycle can be as fast as 30 minutes. They are a friendly lot but don’t expect them to linger, dote or engage. Its a high-volume model. Pay at the counter on your way out.
Lunch Special $12. Almost all the non-special lunch were $12 and under. Reasonable.
Next door to Biryani Pot is Hyderabad House which, to a novice like me, serves almost the same menu. I’ll try it at some point despite my Indian friends casually trying to dissuade me from such. I get the psychology, loyalty is paramount in Indian culture and they know the owners of Biryani Pot. Me, I don’t know either owners, I’m simply interested in what they put on my plate and how much I enjoy it.
Lunch: May 2015
Biryani Pot | 6509 Westheimer | HTX 77057