It is a victory move for Hindu Munnani, Vijayabharath Katchi and others who opposed the three-day Ambur biryani festival. This has now been postponed indefinitely by the District Administration.
A few days back, the Organiser reported about the concerted effort to kill native cuisine with Mogul originated Biryani and mushrooming midnight at roadside unlicensed, unhygienic, and halal certified in Chennai and other places in Tamil Nadu. They are accused of using poor quality condiments, and ingredients and contaminated, rotten meats from dogs, cats and cattle. There are also accusations that biryanis are laced with male contraceptive pills that make them impotent.
The District Collector Amar Kushwaha said that for the first time, Ambur is set to organise a three-day ‘Ambur Biryani Tiruvizha 2022’ (biryani festival) at the Ambur Trade Centre from May 13 to 15 between 5 pm and 8 pm. He said it is organised to promote tourism, and the fete in Ambur- a region synonymous with Biryani- will be hosted by the Tirupattur district administration. “There is no entry fee for visitors. A large number of visitors are expected to attend the festival from neighbouring districts. Around 30 to 50 Biryani stalls will be set up,” said the district collector while speaking at a review meeting with officials about the festival.
Kushwaha said “the district can get the ‘Geographical Indication’ (GI) tag for the Ambur Biryani if we document the festival and submit the same to the government, Spain’s tomato festival and Rajasthan’s Pushkar attract tourists from across the world. Likewise, the biryani festival will also make Tirupattur famous”.
What makes the dish so special from Muslim dominated area? is worth mentioning. Ambur probably has more biryani shops per square kilometre than any other town in the world. One Hassan Baig started the biryani business in Ambur in 1890 from his home.
A shop owner said daily 45-50 kg of rice are used to make the two varieties of Biryani —Ambur biryani is the best-known variety of the Arcot biryani, a generic name for Biryani in the region once ruled by the Nawabs of Arcot. Ambur biryani is distinguished by two central features. “The use of Seeraga Samba rice, a traditional Tamil Nadu variety that is squat and, rather like the Arborio used in risottos, does not coagulate into a mass and retains an al dente character when cooked. The second element is technique. Unlike the katcha Hyderabadi biryanis, the meat is cooked separately, the rice used here is preboiled, and the mixture allowed to cook further on dum — that is, in a lidded vessel on which red hot coals are put. Of course, there is a difference between the Biryani in Ambur and others, for example, in nearby Vaniyambadi” he said.
Vellore division Hindu Munnani head Mahesh warned that holding the festival would not augur well when many issues need to be addressed on priority. He said the government should not organise such mela’s as Biryani is a food of a particular religion. The district collector should not indulge in holding such a festival which would give fillip and promote the sale. Hindu Munnani has appealed to the people to boycott the festival. Vijaya Bharatha Makkal Katchi president Ambur Jaisankar suggested that Ambur is known for its leather industry which should be promoted, resulting in employment generation and growth of the economy of that area. “Holding biryani festival would be of no use to anyone but would leave room for communal clashes”.
Amidst the ongoing protest, Kushwaha announced today (12th May) that the biryani festival, which was scheduled to begin tomorrow, has been postponed owing to the rains.