Laziz Biryani Corner: Exceptional Indo-Pakistan Cuisine

My past experiences with Indian food have tarnished my appetite for the cuisine. On several occasions, including back home in Nigeria, I’ve been faced with a plate of the most colorful yet disappointing dishes. If you think sushi made by Mexicans is not authentic, try Indian food made by Nigerians. I’ve tried India Mahal on Hillsborough Street, Royalindia on Glenwood Avenue and even gourmet Indian cuisine at Azitra and they all tasted bland, almost factory-made.

With this mindset, the idea of trying Indian food one more time was unappealing. During a food review session in class, food review expert Greg Cox raved about Laziz Biryani Corner, a little Indian dive located inside the GoPaks Bazaar convenience store on Hillsborough Street.

Sultana Sarwar, a native of Mumbai who was a resident of Pakistan before moving to the United States, owns Laziz Biryani Corner. Having lived in both India and Pakistan, she is familiar and fluent with both cuisines.

Laziz is in many ways different from all the other Indian eateries I have tried but perhaps the one thing that attracted me to Laziz was learning that they served goat meat.

Goat meat is by no means a delicacy. Back in Nigeria, goat is a staple food eaten with almost every meal, but on this side of the world, I’ve been hard pressed to find a good goat meat dish.

There are a lot of reasons to not like Laziz Biryani Corner. First of all, it’s located all the way behind a convenience store, an unlikely location for a restaurant. It has little aesthetic appeal: the décor consists of a beach mural on the wall and red plastic chairs with hardwood booths. Around the corner are shelves filled with chips, car oil, soda and other convenience goods. The only copy of their menu is taped to a glass screen.

The menu is equally split into vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes and sides. They serve mostly biryani entrees, rice-based dishes garnished with exotic spices such as cardamom and coriander and meats for the non-vegetarian dishes along with different sauces and curries to go with the rice dishes. They also serve a Thali platter, a combo that includes two dishes accompanied with basmati rice, a salad and a naan. All their dishes are less than $10 and NC State students get a 10 percent discount.

Their butter chicken came highly recommended by a friend, so I tried a variation of that, butter mutton, tenderized goat meat prepared with tomatoes, butter, fresh garlic and ginger. The kitchen is located right behind the counter and so the food was prepared in full views. Usually I hate seeing food being cooked but for some reason, watching the pieces of mutton being swirled around in the curry sauce by the proprietress of the restaurant herself brought me the much-needed assurance that I was in for a good meal.

The wait time was much shorter than I expected. At other Indian restaurants, I had waited for about 20 minutes but at Laziz, the wait was somewhere between five and ten minutes. While waiting we were treated to bite-sized pieces of chicken and goat for me, and Indian cheese for my friend who is a vegetarian. Their hospitality was impeccable.

When the food arrived, I was astonished by the portion sizes. Whereas, I was never satisfied by the sizes at other places that cost twice as much, at Laziz, I was overwhelmed. The basmati rice was an array of red, orange and pink hues, and tasted as seasoned as it smelled. The mutton was soft and succulent and felt like I was chewing a medium-rare steak. The naan, leavened oven-baked flatbread, was sub par on its own but tasted exceptional later the next day when I warmed it up and ate with some butter and their dipping sauce.

I tried some of their Shahee Paneer, a vegetarian dish consisting of Indian cheese cooked in butter, tomato and spices, and as a self-proclaimed carnivore, I was fooled into thinking that the cheese was a piece of meat because it tasted just as good.

I ordered mango lassi for desert, the Indian equivalent of a milkshake made with mango pulp, yogurt, milk and sugar. It tasted more like a smoothie with a sour kick that came from the yogurt.

Laziz is also 100 percent halal, which means they respect the halal laws with regards to the way they prepare their food. They also have a sanitation score of 102.

Laziz changed my perception of Indian food, so when you get a chance, take a risk and try it. I’ve walked past the GoPaks Bazaar everyday this semester and now, I don’t regret going in. My only regret is not discovering Laziz earlier. Maybe I could have been saved on those days when I had to settle for mediocre Chinese. Laziz is open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Saturday but is closed on Sundays. More information can be found at their website:


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