Neel Shah: NK Biryani

Sunetra Senior Wednesday 03rd March 2021 07:08 EST

Neel delivers premium modern dining to the comfort of the everyday home. A professional Executive Chef, food stylist and recipe developer by day, NK Biryani is the young talent’s first venture into the world of independent business. Starting the tasty takeaway service last November during this stiller restrictive time with his girlfriend, Keya, he has done impressively well. He prepares an eye-popping selection of tasty, quality meals from the expert domain of his own kitchen, sophisticatedly packaging and bringing them directly to your table. “We offer the fine three-course ambient experience despite the current situation. The food simply needs to be heated up and served!” Neel’s vast prior specialist food development experience lies in the world of successful commercial gastronomy, having worked for huge known establishments, including first-class supermarkets, food retailers and airlines. NK Biryani is an evolution of this with Neel’s colourful precise flourish.    

His modish hand-crafted menu is centred on biryanis but also offers a selection of revamped traditional dishes, including rich yet light curries, that preserve the tantalising flavours of culture while introducing an elevating contemporary twist. Experimenting with technique and spices to transform recognisable street food, Neel’s signature dish is the Smoked Butter Chicken Biryani: “a unique spin on a classic. Another smoky preparation is a chicken bao bun tikka dish.” Neel particularly enjoys the yummy yet wholesome edge that the barbequing cooking method brings, having used industrial apparatus to innovatively create the feel in the past. Now, using the simple domestic equipment to hand, he might “cook over wood to replicate the beautiful charred effect of a tandoor oven, grill and kick-start recipes with a pre-heated oven.” Being the real deal, this actually enhances the familiar deliciousness. Neel also elaborated on his creative authenticity with the product: “we freshly grind, roast and create fresh spices and mixes. In the tikka bao bun dish, for example, I put nigella seeds into the marinade so that the reassuring taste of naans and Indian breads run through.” Other special highlights on NK Biryani’s menu include Chicken Chettinad Biryani, home-style Lamb Biryani and a vegan delight: Fire-roasted Celeriac Biryani. Each dish is served with a fresh pink peppercorn raita.    


Neel adores the naturally hearty texture of vegetables, always appealing as much to the Vegetarian market. “In prior jobs, I have enjoyed inventing and sourcing funky meat substitutes, but personally I love the organically tasty sensation of vegetables. This is always at the core of my menu. Our recipes include many vegan alternatives. I much prefer a charred sweet potato, over say, introducing a blander soya protein.” As adaptive in his entrepreneurship, Neel’s online restaurant is one of a handful of new exceptional national eateries that have recently emerged at this unpredictable time. Whether it is Malaysian, North Korean, modern Italian or Neel’s own zests of the Indian subcontinent, there has been a trend of inimitable grass-roots cooking not just surviving but thriving. “We do hope to one day have a physical location,” Neel commented, “but for now our home-made cuisine, purely advertised through the social platform of Instagram, is really exploding.” Indeed, the site brimming with stellar feedback and enticing images, NK Biryani’s strength speaks for itself. “Initially, we gave out a bunch of free samples, essentially feeding the whole of North London! However, we have continued to get repeat orders, growing a solid client-base.”    

Indeed, going deeper than a material restaurant, NK Biriyani is a blossoming brand. “It definitely feels like the beginning of something big. Our exclusive trait is that we’re extensive. We’ve already created popular themed menus for Christmas and Valentine’s Day. We provide amazing dessert options too e.g., Chai Spiced Mishti Doi with Orange Crumble. There’s been steady consistent growth with an overarching element of fun!” Here, Neel also elaborated on the inherent freedom within his role: “being a good executive chef means having a natural flair for the imaginative. Also, charisma that lets your personality shine through your food. You have to be at the forefront of social trends; factor in spending and money; be responsibly aware of rules and regulations and have a knack for presentation.” And so, as well as transforming standard Indian cuisine, Neel finally infuses his care-free western approach; reflecting the modern mindset of a new generation. Facilitated by the advancement of tech and increasing progressive awareness, work is becoming a blend of recreation and efficiency to value emotional well-being first.    

  “Honestly, if you enjoy your profession working under someone else, you are going to enjoy it much more working for yourself! As my own chef, I love having complete autonomy with the trends I want to pay attention to. I can chuck in new ingredients when I want. Additionally, working with my girlfriend has really boosted my love affair with food! I wouldn’t have been able to form NK Biriyani without her. She’s very good at the marketing and business side: this leaves my hands free to do what I do best!” Although hard work remains important one must also incorporate smart strategy, passion, and, above all, a vibrant connection to the soul. A development of the zeitgeist, the future is in being happy and so sustainably productive. “NK Biriyani started out as a casual idea. My girlfriend and I were discussing it on the couch, and it was on its legs a couple of weeks later. It’s been challenging but also certain because we are going on informed instinct.” Indeed, a few months on and NK Biryani is in high demand. Continuing to buzz and brainstorm, it seem that this nifty concept will only expand.  

I: @nkBiryani

“In prior jobs, I have enjoyed inventing and sourcing funky meat substitutes, but personally I love the organically tasty sensation of vegetables. This is always at the core of my menu. Our recipes include many vegan alternatives"

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