A welcome addition to New York City’s dining landscape, Paradise Biryani Point (77 Lexington Avenue) is captivating discriminating palates with its rich and authentic biryani—a centuries-old recipe of slow-cooked meat and basmati rice, seasoned to perfection with brand founder Raj Gowlikar's hand-mixed spices. It is an amalgamation of Mughlai, Turkish, and Arabic along with the influence of the native Telugu and Marathwada cuisines making this nutritious dish—traditionally served on the most special occasions—the meal of choice in bustling Hyderabad, India’s technology capital. It has been enjoyed by hosts of international power players—from Bill Gates to Bill Clinton to Bollywood royalty.
This Lexington Avenue space, owned by Madhu Reddy, is the nation’s 33rd outpost of Paradise Biryani Pointe and a first for Manhattan. In a few short years, the brand has become the world’s leading seller of biryani, as well as America’s largest Indian food chain. Trading on the soulful culinary skills and business acumen of Gowlikar—affectionately dubbed the “King of Biryani”—Paradise Biryani Pointe focuses on the elevated tastes unique to Moghlai and Tandoor cooking.
Both meat-based and vegetarian dishes hit high notes, thanks to Reddy’s well-run kitchen as well as Gowlikar subtle spice sensibilities. Indeed, he painstakingly prepares the spices - that took him four years to perfect - for each location. Chicken, lamb, and goat are tender and reverentially seasoned, while beautifully composed vegetarian and seafood plates appeal to the spectrum of palates. Meanwhile, lunch specials make it an easy choice for business lunches and nutritious executive midday meals.
Other house signature dishes also include: Chicken 65 (pan-fried chicken in a fiery sauce, served with lemon and onion), Hyderabadi Chicken (prepared with coconut milk, clove, cardamom, and signature spice), tikka-simmered Butter Chicken, Keema Do Pyaaza (minced lamb with spice, bay leaf, onion, and green chiles), Fish Moilee (seasonal fish marinated in spice, pan-fried and simmered in coconut milk), and Goat Paya soup (pressure cooked goat’s leg in a spicy broth). Traditional Ramadan dish Haleem—a slow-cooked ground mixture of goat, spice, wheat, lentils, cashew, egg, and lemon—is intended to reawaken the senses after a break from fasting. It will be offered year-round.
Rounding out the lively menu is a subtly sweet selection of homemade desserts, created by Gowlikar to enliven the spirit as the close of a meal. Gil-e-firdaus is a traditional wedding dessert meaning “paradise on a plate,” that melds the textures and flavors of milk, bottle gourd, and “khoya” (thickened whole milk). Double ka Meetha is a sumptuous and flaky bread pudding elevated with traditional Southern Indian spice. Gowlikar’s Khubani ka Meetha offers an inventive spin on a traditional dessert using crushed dried apricots that are slow-cooked into a textured sauce and smothered onto vanilla bean ice cream.
“I didn’t set out to create the largest Indian Food Chain in America, although in a short few years that’s what Paradise Biryani Pointe has become,” says Gowlikar. “I was never thinking about expansion; I simply wanted to celebrate my culture’s food traditions and share these fantastic flavors with those who are eager to appreciate them. Cooking comes naturally to me—it has always been significant within my family—and it’s thrilling to see what I’ve created take root and be celebrated across the United States.”
In 2007, Gowlikar, a former IT professional, opened the first Paradise Biryani Pointe in New Jersey. His wife, Shaila, was head-over-heels in love with Raj’s biryani recipe, and from his passion and her enthusiasm came this concept of “Paradise”. That first restaurant gave Raj the chance to cut his teeth on the restaurant business, learn the challenges of maintaining food quality and recipe consistency, and establish his keys to smooth restaurant management. As Paradise Biryani Pointe has multiplied and found success across the country, Raj chooses to stay extremely involved with all of the brand’s outposts. Meanwhile, Madhu puts pride and passion into the day-to-day operation of this Lexington outpost.
Manhattan has quickly begun to dig into Paradise Biryani Pointe’s dishes, and Reddy beams with pride as New York enjoys his offerings. He and Gowlikar have set a subtle yet elevated stage, where food is the primary focus. The gentlemen worked with an Indian design firm to create a signature raw silk installation, imbued with the hues of Indian spices. Tables and seating are comfortable and straightforward, a handsome venue for many heavenly meals.
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