I’ve had countless biryanis in many an Indian restaurants but never like the one I had at Dastaan. It comes in a conical earthenware pot sealed with a slice of flatbread. The technique is called dum pukht and means ‘breathe and cook’ which is just what is happening beneath the lid. Layers of rice and chicken are steamed together until they are cooked to perfect tenderness. To serve it, the waiter slices off the pastry lid to release all the lovely spices and the delicate chicken. It is served with a cooling pomegranate and cucumber raita.
Dastaan is the work of Nand Kishor Semwal and Sanjay Gour who met when they worked together at the famed Gymkhana in Mayfair and then opened their own place, Dastaan in Epsom in Surrey. Happily they chose Leeds for their second venture for, what they describe as ‘its vibrant restaurant scene’.
They have put together an interesting menu that is a welcome departure from the usual Indian. Kale, spinach and onion bhajis, spice marinated fish served with dill and ginger raita, duck and guinea fowl kebabs and methi chicken. The star though is a superb vindaloo, made with pork cheek, vinegar, garlic and spices, and is not the fiery vindaloo of legend, but a lovely dish of deeply layered spicing.