Yes, I'll admit the seared-steamed-roasted potato unique to biryani from this city, anathema to all others, is quite a golden nugget of fluffy fun-in-a-spud. But that's just the thing — a rice-and-meat steamed dish admittedly demanding of technique is one thing; the pursuit of the perfect potato is quite another.
And it's technique that lets down most biryanis. Oh, you can have each grain separate and the meat falling off the bones from many a roadside degh — but it's no good if it's so greasy as to stick together into a lardy lump the moment it cools to a tongue-friendly temperature. There's no joy in the delicacy of good degh technique when the spices crust the meat and dot the rice with coarse speckles; furring the palate with an excess of mace and screwpine. And the rubbery boiled eggs, so prized of some, I can do without the sulphurous stink of, though I admit they add much-needed colour to a monochrome meat-and-rice-(and-potato-perhaps) dish.
The other kinds of colour in your average box of biryani, now plastic-lined paper (to the convenience of your coat and the detriment of your health), are more worrying than winsome: traditional cochineal from a ground-up insect; turmeric that overwhelms flavour and fragrance, or worse, dishonestly dangerous metanil yellow, a carcinogen often sold under the guise of 'safe' tartrazine, itself an azo dye substituting the expensive saffron...
Hair-raising enough to put you off your lunch, isn't it? So why am I even thinking of dishing up any?
The recipe made me do it.