First Row (R to L): Mohammed Azhar, Mohammed Ather & Mohammed Amir – 3rd & 4th Generation Owners. Second Row (R to L): Azra Asher Ather (Director) and Kabir Azhar & Asher Ather: 4th Generation Owners
New Delhi (India), October 9: Nestled within the heart of Kolkata, lies a fascinating saga that unfolds through the passage of time, where history and gastronomy perfectly amalgamate. The iconic Mughlai dine den completed its 94th year and proudly steps into its 95th inning, showcasing its unyielding commitment to serving timeless authenticity for years.
Let’s rewind a little here! The roots of Aminia’s legacy trace back to the upheavals of the First World War when Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh was exiled to Kolkata from Lucknow. Determined to preserve Lucknow’s indigenous taste, the Nawab brought along his team of Khansamas and Bawarchis, who eventually birthed what we now know as Kolkata Biryani. However, their financial situation was precarious because of the lack of resources. They made the decision to reduce the amount of meat and substitute it with aloo (potato), which can absorb the flavour without detracting from the umami of the fundamental dish. The strategic infusion of the ingredients led to the creation of this unique culinary marvel.
Fast forward to 1929, and Aminia makes its debut on Zakaria Street, offering the exquisite Awadhi cuisine that delighted the palates of Kolkatans. However, it was in 1947 that Aminia etched its name indelibly in history by opening the largest and oldest outlet in New Market, coinciding with India’s declaration of independence. This iconic establishment became the nucleus of Aminia’s journey, spreading its signature flavours across the city. Stepping into the footsteps of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, Aminia took a historic leap by commercialising the use of potatoes (aloo) in their biryani – a culinary innovation that forever transformed the way we savour this timeless dish.
As the years rolled by, Aminia’s culinary prowess flourished under the leadership of Mohammed Azhar, the third-generation director and chairman. He orchestrated the expansion of the restaurant’s footprint, responding adeptly to evolving tastes and demands. This growth trajectory, marked by strategic vision and customer devotion, paved the way for Aminia’s reach to extend across Kolkata with new outlets in various neighbourhoods. Today, Aminia stands tall, run by the capable hands of the third and fourth generations. Asher Ather and Kabir Azhar, representing the youthful energy and enthusiasm of the family, have elevated Aminia to new heights. Asher, with his profound understanding of management from institutions like IISWBM and IIM, has introduced innovative variations, enriching the brand while honouring its heritage. Kabir, armed with a degree in finance and marketing, envisions expanding the legacy, ensuring the delectable taste of Kolkata Biryani is experienced far and wide.
Aminia’s patrons make for a bouquet of legends and anecdotes, spanning from the renowned MF Hussain to the esteemed Jyoti Basu. Amid the vibrant backdrop of Kolkata’s cinematic landscape, Aminia played gracious host to none other than Imtiaz Ali during the filming of ‘Highway,’ a gathering that saw the presence of stars like Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda. The year 2018 etched another chapter in Aminia’s storied existence when Sarah Todd, herself an accomplished chef and author, savoured the timeless allure of this Mughlai gem, forever imprinted on the annals of history. Transporting ourselves back to yesteryears, we find the echoes of Ustad Vilayat Khan and Ustad Bismillah Khan’s impassioned melodies reverberating through Dover Lane. As the final notes of their soul-stirring concerts faded into the night, where do you think these musical maestros sought solace and sustenance? Like a harmonious rhythm that concludes an intricate musical composition, only a plate of Aminia’s biryani could satiate their hunger. For legendary football icons such as PK Banerjee and Chuni Goswami, Aminia wasn’t just a destination; it was the coveted goal at the end of a thrilling match.
History has it that Aminia once played a pivotal role as a bustling breakfast spot during the British India era, offering a fragrant cup of chai and an assortment of morning delights to its patrons. Amid these offerings emerges the timeless dish, the Aminia Special Mutton Curry. Crafted with utmost care to cater to the palates of the British colonialists, this dish has transcended eras and continues to satiate the hearts of Mughlai aficionados. The delicately spiced gravy, accompanied by tender mutton chunks, an egg, a tomato, an entire onion, a wholesome potato, and a slice of carrot, leaves a trail of flavours that linger on the palate.
Living up to its revered tagline ‘The Taste You Love,’ Aminia has thrived on the affection and support of its patrons. Here the unattainable perfection of the Mughlai cuisines, reminiscent of the forgotten Nawabi elegance of Bengal, awaits the connoisseur’s discerning palate. This has propelled its expansion, now spanning outlets across Golpark, Jessore Road, Shyambazar, Rajarhat, Behala, Barrackpore, Serampore, Sodepur, Siliguri, Guwahati, and Kolaghat.
Aminia is more than just any restaurant; it’s a cultural legacy deeply rooted in the city’s heart. It doesn’t just serve food; it is committed to serving the community. What once brought fathers and grandfathers to its tables, now sees them returning with their sons and grandsons. This is the enduring legacy of Aminia, where family traditions and the love for authentic flavours are passed down through generations. From its inception, Aminia has preserved the same flavours and tastes, thanks to closely guarded family recipes. ‘95 not out’ and generations strong, Aminia continues to treasure ancestral recipes. Delicacies like Mutton/ Chicken Special Biryani, Aminia Special Mutton Curry, Mutton/ Chicken Rezala, Chicken Chap, and the scrumptious Shahi Firni are just a few of the restaurant’s quintessential dishes.
Simply put, Aminia is an experience that our forefathers cherished, and it feels like they’ve entrusted us with this tradition. Every festive season and special occasion calls for a celebration at Aminia. In this extraordinary 95-year-old journey, spanning from the kitchens of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah to the bustling outlets scattered across the city, the restaurant has evolved and adapted to the ever-changing palates of its customers, and it will continue to do so. Additionally, the restaurant’s philanthropic initiatives, including the #Aminialftar movement and partnerships with the Robin Hood Army, illustrate its dedication to giving back to the very community that fostered its growth. With a gaze fixed on the future and a heart deeply rooted in history, Aminia continues to offer more than just food that extends a piece of Kolkata’s vibrant culture to all who step through its doors.
And with new additions to the menu, its Aminia’s way of giving back to the society that has given it so much and allowed it to become an integral part of the city’s cherished legacy.
The history of Aminia dates back to 1929. Today, Aminia is being run by third and fourth generations with fourteen outlets across the city. Each and every dish at Aminia has a serene taste that one can’t let go of. Aminia’s biryani and kebabs are one thing to fall for whenever you have a bite or have its smell. It has an essence of its own. Aminia is situated in different extreme locations serving people everywhere with love.
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