According to history when Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was dethroned and banished to Metiabruz, he brought with him a retinue of 1000 Bawarchis and Khansamas from Lucknow. The Nawab, known for his penchant to splurge on art, music and food had granted a rare authority to his chefs. And Chef Shammuddin, a direct descendant of Wajid Ali Shah’s royal kitchen was the first one to introduce authentic Mughlai cuisine in Kolkata. . It was he who created the recipe of what we call “Shiraz-e- Biriyani”, a secret recipe that gives it a cut above the others; it is only known to the owners of the restaurant.
What became popular as Shiraz was merely a food joint at the Park Street – Mullickbazaar crossing then called “The Taj Hotel”. The year was 1941 and it was sheer culinary serendipity that inspired Late Arshad Ali to set up the eatery. It wasn’t a readymade brand from another city, it wasn’t the latest outpost in a burgeoning empire of restaurant chains, and it didn’t have big-name investors and big-statement décor. Blame it to the age when it came up, but what it had, simply outscored every possible parameter for success — the humble endeavour of a visionary, though with its share of flaws.
It rechristened itself in 1956 as “Golden Restaurant”. By that time, the eatery had already started exemplifying the possibility of terrific eating within unostentatious trappings. Shiraz formally came into being in 1970 as a partnership business between two friends Mohammed Arshad Ali and Shamsul Haque Zaved.
No other restaurant can claim a 100% brand recall and research reveals more than 70% Kolkatans have tasted the food of Shiraz, even if it is once.
Mughlai cuisine has traveled far and wide. But it is believed that only a handful of chefs with royal khansama lineage know the secret ingredients. Shiraz – Golden Restaurant is one of the few Mughlai restaurants that carry this legacy forward and they also embellished the “Dum Pukht” style of cooking with aromatic ingredients and dried fruits.
For more than five decades, the intersection of Park Street and Mullickbazaar remained the only meeting and eating rendezvous. In the year 1995, it started proliferating with its first franchisee located at Jadavpur, following 8 other outlets. Recently Shiraz Golden Restaurant added another feather to its cap by stepping into Dubai.
WELCOME TO SHIRAZ
Shiraz Golden was famous as Taj Restaurant way back in late 40s and Golden Restaurant during late 50s which got changed to, what is popularly known today as, Shiraz Golden Restaurant.
The Taj Restaurant was located at 56 Park Street where the hotel Siamton Inn Shiraz stands now. Shiraz Golden Restaurant has shifted to the opposite side of the street.
Shiraz is the only restaurant taking forward the legacy of Kolkata’s Biryani to Dubai. Shiraz has its set-up in Karama, a bustling neighbourhood of Dubai. If you visit Shiraz in Dubai you will always find a whole lot of Bengalis savouring the taste they have grown up with. You won’t be able to make out if you are in Dubai or Kolkata.
Despite so many places serving biryani in Dubai Emiratis too flock to Shiraz for their unique taste and often praise it as the ‘best’. The famous Saint, Shirazi-Rehmat-Ullah Aliah, who was known for his lavish invitations lived in Shiraz, the second biggest city of Iran, and it was from here itself the name ‘Shiraz’ was derived for the restaurant.
In Arabic the meaning of the word ‘Shiraz ‘is “One who is Sweet” Mohammad Shamshuddin was the first Bawarchi in Taj Restaurant and he was the direct descendant of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Lucknow.
Taj Restaurant was started by two partners Late Arshad Ali and Late Mohammad Hussain, who came to the city of Joy, the then capital and nerve center of India with a dream to be the forbearers of Awadhi cuisine, leaving their respective jobs in Bihar.
Shiraz is the only restaurant taking forward the legacy of Kolkata’s Biryani around the Globe.
The zafran (Saffron) used in Shiraz’s biryani is exclusively brought from Kashmir.
Shiraz Golden Restaurant uses one and half kilos of zafran per month for their recipes.
The breakfast at Shiraz Golden Restaurant starts as early as 5 am and the restaurant is packed till 8 am and is a major draw amongst the Afghan community.
Once a Marwari gentleman’s son was hospitalized and the Doctor asked him to give him non-veg food. When he was not willing the Doctor just wrote “Shiraz Food” in the prescription. The gentleman on reaching the restaurant wandered around for over an hour. On being asked by the Manager about his problem, the gentleman showed him the prescription. He was then given Paya dishes with which his son was regularly fed. Finally his son recuperated.
Non-resident Bengalis are regularly spotted at Shiraz packing a few plates of biryani before boarding a flight.
Shiraz was the first to start the QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) system way back in 1993-94 in Jadavpur and Salt Lake.
In the early days biryani here was sold for Rs 5.75 and Kebabs at 13 paisa & Egg roll at 26 paisa.
It is not uncommon to see a lot of foreigners, especially British, enjoying at Shiraz. They say the perfect balance of spices in Shiraz food suits their taste, perfectly.
There are members of the staff in Shiraz who have been working there for more than 40 years and can rattle off anecdotes and names of famous people they have met there at the blink of an eye.
Shiraz was always a hot favourite for the visiting Pakistani Cricket Team in the 80s and early 90s. Shoaib Akhtar, Inzamam-ul-Haque & Salim Malik amongst others used to swear by Shiraz’s Biryani. Late actor, Amjad Khan, paid regular visits to Shiraz Golden Restaurant before he even starred in Sholay. Once on a visit to Kolkata few years later, he regretted not being able to come to Shiraz that often because of his professional commitments. Shiraz Golden Restaurant also had renowned visitors like Farooq Sheikh, M.F. Hussain, Shabana Azmi & Ashish Vidyarthi. Kishore Kumar’s and R.D Burman’s visit to Kolkata in late 70s were never complete without a trip to Shiraz Golden Restaurant. Whenever Asrani visited Shiraz he was sweet enough to listen to the request of the staff to utter a few dialogues from Sholay. He obliged happily and then only dug into his plate of biryani.
Shiraz is an all-time favourite for our cricket doyen, Mr Saurav Ganguly and MS Dhoni. Dhoni still packs biryani from Shiraz when he travels back home. Even when Dhoni was in town for his wedding, Shiraz food was served to him on a regular basis. Even Saba Karim is an ardent fan of Shiraz food.
Ranbir Kapoor relishes Shiraz rolls when he is Kolkata. Shobhaa De has tweeted about Shiraz serving the Best Biryani in Kolkata.
No other restaurant can claim a 100% brand recall and research reveals more than 70% Kolkatans have tasted the food of Shiraz.
Today Shiraz has its flagship restaurant at Mullick Bazaar, Kolkata and 10 more across Kolkata and two outlets in Bhubaneshwar.
Shiraz Golden Restaurant
Shiraz Golden Restaurant is one of the few Awadhi restaurants that carry their legacy forward. They have embellished the “Dum Pukht” style of cooking. Over the years Shiraz Golden Restaurant has evolved tremendously. For more than seven decades, Shiraz, located at the intersection of Park Street and Mullickbazaar, remained the most popular meeting and eating rendezvous. In the year 1995, it started proliferating with its first franchisee located at Jadavpur, following which 8 other outlets have come up. Recently Shiraz Golden Restaurant added another feather to its cap by stepping into Dubai. The group is now expanding its presence in India and abroad.
“WHAT DOES “DUM PUKHT” MEAN? ‘DUM PUKHT’ LITERALLY TRANSLATES FROM PERSIAN AS ‘SLOW OVEN’. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST REFINED METHODS OF COOKING, USED IN BOTH INDIA AND PAKISTAN FOR THE LAST 200 YEARS. THE COOKING IS DONE OVER A LOW FLAME WHERE THE SPICES AND OTHER INGREDIENTS ARE PUT IN A SEALED CONTAINER TO ALLOW THE MEATS TO TENDERISE IN THEIR OWN JUICES. THIS ALSO MEANS THAT FEWER SPICES ARE USED THAN IN NORMAL INDIAN COOKING. FRESH SPICES AND HERBS ARE USED TO ENHANCE THE FLAVOUR AND TEXTURE OF THE MEAT. THE SLOW COOKING PROCESS HELPS THE HERBS RELEASE THEIR MAXIMUM FLAVOUR. ONCE COOKED AND THE SEAL IS LIFTED, THE AROMA OF THE TENDER MEAT IS SIMPLY MOUTH-WATERING.”
Circa 1941. India was right in the middle of World War II that began in 1939 and ended in 1944. It is also the year that marked Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s escape from his house arrest the British Government had held him to. On October 1, 1941, clocks in Calcutta were turned forward 0:36:40 hours to establish local standard time which was brought back to coincide with Indian Standard Time later. The same year, Yale University established the first US chair of Sanskrit and Indology and placed a classical Indian language on the world map.
And the same year, a slightly ‘invisible’ history was created in the city of Calcutta. Even within those terribly turbulent times, a small restaurant specialising in Mughlai cuisine in general and Awadhi cuisine in particular, opened at the Park Circus-Mullick Bazar Crossing. That was 79 years ago.
The first decade of Shiraz “very few restaurants in Calcutta specialising in Mughlai cuisine went through stormy phases of Indian history,” Founded in 1941 by Mohammed Arshad Ali and Ali Hussain who arrived in Calcutta all the way from Bihar.
Their sole dream was to open a restaurant that offered Mughlai cuisine to people of the city. They organized a meeting with Chef Shamshuddin who was a descendant of the Chef of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah who was persuaded to come to Calcutta from Lucknow and join in this unique enterprise. The name “Shiraz” was inspired by the name of the second best biggest city of Iran famous for its exotic food and cuisine. These three partners are no longer around but we are proud that they took this risky decision at a time when historically and politically, the environment was far from ideal to start a restaurant in Mullick Bazar.”
Over the years, the city has opened its doors to many restaurants specialising in Mughlai cuisine but Shiraz has become a part of the city’s history and has spread its wings to extend its business to other parts of the country and beyond. “Our uniqueness lies in sticking to the authenticity of Awadhi cuisine not permitting other influences to change this though it is not as though our Chefs are not innovating new dishes. The Awadhi flavour, taste, texture and colour are specifically our own. Shiraz is synonymous with the city of Calcutta and even now when the city has changed its name to Kolkata.
The chief Chefs are descendants of the first chef who came from Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s family Chef which adds to the USP of the Shiraz group which is still a partnership. “Our Chefs have constantly worked at embellishing the “Dum Pukht” style of cooking. Over the years Shiraz Golden Restaurant has evolved tremendously.
“THOUGH BIRYANI IS PREFERRED BY MOST OF OUR CUSTOMERS AS A ONE-DISH MEAL, OUR CHAAPS – MUTTON AND CHICKEN, ARE EQUALLY POPULAR SOMETIMES TAKEN AS AN ACCOMPANIMENT WITH BIRYANI AND SOMETIMES, WITH NAAN AND OTHER INDIAN BREAD VARIETIES,” WE ARE DEDICATED TO MAINTAIN THE HIGHEST STANDARDS IN TERMS OF QUALITY.”
Shiraz Golden Restaurant is one of the few Mughlai restaurants that carry their legacy forward. They have embellished the “Dum Pukht” style of cooking with aromatic ingredients and dried fruits. Started in 1941.