Sulthan Palace.

Our quest for the best street-level biryani in town continues. This week we ticked off an old Colombo 7 biryani classic Rahumania (next to Odel) – long term rival of Raheema’s at Thurstan Road. Both are well known purveyors of well-priced biryani. Unlike Raheema’s Rahumaniya’s is opened late (2am late), seems to offer a wider selection of Indian-inspired dishes, and now benefits from an extensively refurbished interior. Along with the refurbishment has come a revamped menu with a large selection of Arabic dishes added to their Indian staples. There’s kubus (pita) bread, hummus, foul, tabbouleh, fatayer and much more. Although our purpose was really the biryani we were sufficiently intrigued by the middle-eastern selection that we ordered the hummus (rs 240) and pita bread along with our usual chicken biryani (Rs 280).
While we had visions of men more used to chopping onions and pounding chilis for curry sauce struggling a bit with the chickpeas, olive oil and more subtle flavor of hummus a passable chickpea puree was produced in fairly short order. Overly sharp, undersalted and lacking in tahini this wasn’t a hummus your Lebanese grandmother would approve of, but we don’t have Lebanese grandmothers and in a land rather lacking in middle eastern food any hummus is a good hummus, at least it makes a change. While the kubus was a little too hard, and stodgy we discovered that Biryani and hummus is actually a pretty workable combination. Which of course bring us to the main event- experimentation with Arabic food aside Rahumaniya’s is still fundamentally a biryani-joint.

Fortunately for all the refurbishment and refitting we found the house special pretty much unchanged (not a bad thing). Yellow rice, mint sambol, a generous chicken leg/thigh joint and a boiled egg. While the rice wasn’t quite as rich as we’d have liked we did notice a couple of cloves folded into the golden grains- a key ingredient which has nevertheless been absent in most of our previous street biryani feeds. The chicken fresh off the grill at the lunch time peak was particularly good – probably a touch better than Raheema’s version of the same – crispier, less infused with coconut oil. This was really a pretty satisfying lunch for a very reasonable price. And while in terms of overall Biryani tastines it’s difficult to chose between Raheema’s and Rahumania – both are basically your Sri Lankan-style Biryani done pretty averagely, but tastily. More comfortable seating, a good selection of fresh fruit juice and the choices on the Arabic menu mean I give the current edge in the long standing R and R rivalry to the men from opposite the Dewatagaha Mosque.

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