Aishbagh Thela Biryani

Shabbir is from Lucknow itself, but learnt to cook at an old establishment near the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi. In 2004 he started selling biryani off his hand cart near the eidgah in Aishbagh. His fame spread gradually in the area. His used to be the sole outlet in this area when he started, but there are three carts selling biryani near his. Of course, his is the pioneering enterprise, and is located closest to the eidgah. Biryani is sold by weight here, as is the tradition in Western Uttar Pradesh. Initially, 250 grams would fetch ₹ 20, but inflation has forced him to hike up the price to ₹ 35. Shabbir’s son helps out now and then, but currently he is managing just by himself. He serves about 200 customers every day, and manages to save about ₹300. Most of the income is ploughed back into raw material for the next day, and all he saves is on the labour costs. Most of his customers happen to avoid eating meat on Tuesdays, so he does not set up his cart on Tuesdays. He takes a break during the Navratri observances and during all festivals. He says: “As many days a festival lasts, those many days the shop is shut!”