Biryani is an aromatic and flavorful dish that you should try while visiting India. Having said that, each area of the country has its own take and variation on this traditional dish. Some are tangy, while others aren’t, but they’re all worth trying. Here are some of the different types of the biryanis available in India.
Hyderabadi Biryani comes in two varieties: Pakki (cooked) and Kacchi (uncooked). People believe it to originate in the kitchen of Hyderabad’s Nizam (raw). Pakki Hyderabadi Biryani is prepared by cooking basmati rice and meat separately and then layering them. The kacchi Hyderabadi Biryani is prepared with raw marinated meat (chicken or lamb) sandwiched between layers of basmati rice. Rice fills with saffron, onions, and dried fruits. Moreover, people use slow cooking techniques for both in a dough-sealed earthen pot over charcoal fire. It yields a creamy, aromatic, and punchy biryani. If you go out to eat with a local, you’re more than likely to order one of the Hyderabadi biryani varieties.
The Lucknowi Biryani, also popular as the ‘Awadhi biryani,’ is unique because of its cooking style, popular as dum pukht. This spice-infused meat (or chicken) partially cooks independently from the saffron, star anise, and cinnamon-flavored rice. The meat and rice are then layered in a handi (deep-bottomed vessel). People then cook it for hours till the flavours have penetrated deeply. The end result is a mildly Lucknowi biryani with a smooth texture and amazing flavour.
Calcutta Biryani hails from Kolkata, but its origin can trace back to Lucknow’s Awadhi style biryani. It has light yellow rice, layered with yogurt-based beef, soft boiled eggs, and potatoes. Also, it has subtle flavours with a touch Sindhi Biryani, as the name implies. It is a dish that comes from Sindh province (now part of Pakistan). The flavour of this biryani is piquant and aromatic, thanks to the liberal use of chopped chillies, roasted spices, mint and coriander leaves, onions, nuts, dried fruits, and sour yoghurt. For good measure, people add plums and potatoes to this biryani for sweetness and sparing use of spices. Saffron, nutmeg, and kewra, for example, give the biryani a calming aroma.
This biryani comes from the Malabar region of Kerala, and is sweet and spicy. This region’s biryani varieties are as numerous and diverse as its cultures and ethnic groups. In the Thalassery Biryani, for example, an exotic rice variety. Khyma or Jeerakasala – is there instead of the conventional basmati rice. Malabar spices, meat or chicken, fried onions, fennel seeds, sauteed cashews, and raisins are among the other ingredients in this biryani. The Khyma is prepared separately from the meat and mixes only when ready to serve.
The Bombay Biryani alone is worth the ride to Mumbai. It’s a combination of chicken (mutton or vegetables), fried and spiced potatoes, kewra water (screw pine), and dried plums, which give it a sweet, tangy, and aromatic flavour.
Sindhi Biryani, as the name implies, is a recipe that originated in Sindh province (now part of Pakistan). The flavour of this biryani is peppery and aromatic, thanks to the liberal use of chopped chillies, roasted spices, mint and coriander leaves, onions, nuts, dried fruits, and sour yoghurt. For good measure, people add plums and potatoes to this biryani.
Kalyani Biryani, also popular as the “poor man’s Hyderabadi biryani,” originates from Bidar (Karnataka). The Kalyani biryani is a flavorful and tangy dish made with buffalo meat and a variety of spices, coriander, and tomatoes. Although it lacks the ingredients available in famous Hyderabadi biryani, the flavour and aroma are identical.
Dindigul Biryani is a common dish that can be available in a variety of restaurants throughout Chennai. It has a good and tangy taste that comes from the combination of curd and lemon, as well as cube-sized meat (mutton or chicken) and jeera samba rice. A lot of pepper is also there to give it a zesty taste.
When visiting Tamil Nadu, Ambur Biryani is an unmissable travel experience in and of itself. This biryani, like many biryani variations, includes meat (chicken or mutton), but the way the meat cooks is what sets it apart. The meat is soaked in curd and seasoned with coriander and mint before it is mixed with other spices and added to cooked Seeraga samba rice. Every biryani lover’s dream is to eat it with ennai kathirikai, a brinjal curry.
Tehari biryani is biryani without meat, as compared to conventional biryani. According to legend, this biryani was for the Mughal court’s vegetarian Hindu bookkeepers. Also, it has since become one of the most popular vegan options in the region. This biryani is prepared with potatoes, carrots, a variety of vegetables. It has a variety of spices, giving it a hearty and savoury flavour.
Origin of biryani in India
Although the delicacy is a main course on many Indian menus, it originates from outside of the country. According to historians, biryani, a commodity with origins in Persian cuisine, became popular throughout the country during the reign of the Mughals. The name comes from the Persian word Birian, which means “fried before cooking.” The origins of the humble biryani are shrouded in mystery. Some claim it was inspired by Mumtaz Mahal’s request for a rice and meat dish to feed the army’s apparent malnutrition. However, others say it was brought to India by conqueror Taimur.
India’s history, famous for its diversity, is the product of the constant introduction and influence of various rulers. The subcontinent has a colourful mix of cultures—Persian, and Mughal—as it was fought over time and time again. These rulers’ cultures gradually infiltrated the land, and it soon was their own.
Biryani is a fragrant basmati rice dish with spices, vegetables, and meat. It is almost soul food for Indians, especially available for a couple of pennies for college students. Although the delicacy is a main course on many Indian menus, it originates outside of the country. Biryani, a Persian dish, became popular throughout the country during the Mughals’ reign.
At Coriander Leaf, Yangon, Myanmar, you can try some of the best indian biryani.