Dining: Murgh Biryani “dum” style

written by: Mary Brown Malouf      photos by: Adam Finkle

A new dish at the new Saffron Valley in Sugar House.

Lavanya Mahate’s reputation as Salt Lake’s queen (should I say rani?) of Indian food is secure: From a purveyor of the spices and flavors that are the hallmark of subcontinental cuisine to a tea shop featuring the finest of Anglo-Indian flavor mash-ups, her restaurants (Saffron Valley, East India, Biscott) present a wide sampling of the vast and gorgeous culinary complications of India.

Mahate loves Indian food from all regions and wants you to love it too.

Her latest restaurant is on the outskirts of Sugarhouse, and it brings together ideas from all her previous places—there’s a pastry case in the front, there’s a section of street-style snacks and there’s a menu of kebabs, curries and biryanis. But this being Mahate’s restaurant, there are also surprises—she is always pushing to expand Utahns’ ideas of Indian food beyond tikka masala. One of the restaurant’s signature dishes looks like a chicken pot pie. It’s called Murgh Biryani “dum” style. Click here for the full recipe.

Deconstructing the Dish

1. Biryani has an ancient history, but is thought to be a combination of a Persian dish from the era of Mughal rule in India combined with pulao (pilaf), a subcontinental dish. Biryani is everywhere in India and it’s different everywhere you eat it.

2. Biryani is one of the most elaborate dishes in Indian cooking, a slowly simmered dish of rice, meat (often goat) and a long list of essential spices. Mahate’s recipe uses fresh mint, onions, lemon juice, serrano chilies and cilantro, plus ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, salt, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, garam masala powder with yogurt and oil. That’s just for the chicken.

3. Dum style is the traditional Indian method of steaming food a long time in a tightly covered pot, particularly popular in Hyderabad.

4. At Saffron Valley Sugar House, naan dough is spread over the dish, like a lid, to seal the biryani. On cooking, the lid becomes bread which has absorbed the flavors of the food and the two are best eaten together.


Address:  26 E Street, SLC

Web: saffronvalley.com

Phone: 801-203-3325

Entrees: $$ (Moderate)

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Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Maloufhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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