Biryani may soon be declared as the national dish in India for the fact that it is a dish which beyond cultures is a favourite among most. How it arrived in India has a lot of legendary stories. Some say it was an inspired dish from the Middle- East while the others say Mumtaz Mahal was responsible for this dish. Wherever its origins may lie, today biryani has evolved to be a favourite and has been incorporated into the majority of cuisines of the country. There are up to almost 30 varieties of biryani.
How many of these have you tasted?
Made as a Hindu variation for Muslim Nawabs, Tehri is a vegetarian rice dish with a recipe similar to the classic biryani with a slight alteration to it. While in the traditional biryani rice is added to the meat, in Tehri the rice is added to potatoes. This dish gained extreme recognition during the World War II when meat prices skyrocketed and potato emerged as a cheaper alternative to it. Tehri is an ordinary street food in Kashmir.
Though most types of biryani have the common elements of rice and meat; there are various styles of cooking it. Kachchi biryani is a sort of biryani where the uncooked yet marinated chicken is layered in the handi or an earthen pot with rice alternatively in multiple layers and cooked on the heat. As the handi is sealed with a wheat dough, the steam inside allows cooking the dish. The container remains unopened during the entire duration of cooking.
Hyderabadi Pakki Biryani
When we think of biryani, Hyderabadi Biryani is the first that comes to one’s mind. It was initially conceived as a dish under Asaf Jaha I, the appointed Governor of Deccan by Aurangzeb. The usual components of the dish are rice, meat (gosht) and spices. The pakki biryani comprises cooked rice and cooked meat made in alternative layers and cooked on a flame. The Hyderabadi Biryani is rendered spicy than any other form of Biryani.
Bengal got its Biryani in 1856, when the Nawab of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah was exiled from Lucknow. The Nawab brought his chef and his royal recipes of biryani along with him, in the suburbs of Metiabruz, part of present day Kolkata. As the people were poor and could not afford to pay for the increasing prices of meat, the element of potato and boiled egg was added to it, which went on to become the signature style of the dish. A simpler variation of the biryani, Calcutta biryani is light and mild regarding spices. Due to a unique combination of spices used in the marinade, the biryani has a unique taste of its own compared to the other styles. It is further seasoned with rose water and saffron to add flavour and colour.
The Lucknowi Biryani was as grand as a royal dish could go, but in terms of taste and not spices. It has a mild flavour and is comparatively lighter on the stomach. Very similar to the Calcutta Biryani in making, the difference lies in the absence of the potato. It uses few spices but makes up for with its aroma and rich flavour.
Malabar Biriyani/ Thalassery Biryani
A very popular dish among the community of Malabar Muslims, this variation of the dish originated in Kerala. Although the components of meat and spices are similar to the other varieties, how this biryani differs from the others is by the choice of its rice. They use an unusual type of rice grain known as Khyma, a small- grain thin rice. A majority of spices are used in the preparation with very little chilli. The biryani is then cooked on dum after being sealed, and the top of the pot is covered with hot charcoal.
Conceived in the kitchen of the Mughals, this came into India when the Mughals first started ruling India. The Mughal Empire thoroughly spread across the entire country taught people and cultures of their cuisine and various dishes, out of which biryani was one. This style of Biryani can be commonly seen in Delhi.
The northern part of Tamil Nadu has a high population of Muslims, which is where this dish prevails. It is also known as Vaniyambadi Biryani as it is a part of the cuisine of the two neighbouring cities of Ambur and Vaniyambadi in Vellore district. This particular type of Biryani was introduced by the yesteryear ruler, Nawabs of Arcot. The dish is incomplete unless it is accompanied with a sour eggplant curry and raita. The meat element is the dominating element over rice in quantity.
This is a Biryani flavoured in Pakistan, as it prevailed in the previously known Sindh region of the country before the partition. It has since then, evolved to become a significant part of Sindhi and Pakistani cuisine. Truly exotic in taste, this biryani is a treasure of sorts for its aromatic spices and flavour. The constituents of the dish are mainly rice, meat, vegetables and spices. In fact, the Sindhi Biryani has ended up to become a frequent meal on the international flights through Pakistan.
Originating from the coastal town of Bhatkal, Karnataka, it has since its invention been an important part of the Navayathi cuisine. Although this preparation has been drawn from the Middle-East, it has evolved to become one of its kind. Here, the meat instead of a curd based marinade is marinated in a green chilli and onion masala mixture, along with which the rice is cooked. Once the biryani is made, it is topped off with mashed onions, garlic, spices, chillies, curry leaves which are what adds to its uniqueness. Furthermore, no oil or ghee-based additives are used in the preparation of this dish. The biryani is white with laces of orange from the masala.
Kashmiri cuisine faces a mix of influences over time. The first of biryanis were a result of the Mughal Emperor’s frequent visit to the heavenly state of Kashmir which used to be a retreat. Other than the royalty of the Kashmiri Biryani, it stands out for the addition of asafoetida. The Kashmiri Bhuna Gosht Biryani is a variation renowned all over the country.
One of the mildest biryani of all, it belongs to South Karnataka. It also has a different version prevalent in regions around Mangalore which is spicier. The highlighting flavour in the preparation is the ghee and mixture of spices, which is mixed and rested with the rice and kept overnight. This allows the flavours to seep in. The preferred meat choices apart from the regular chicken and mutton are prawn and beef.
The Kozhikode Biryani is to be owed to the trading community of Mappila’s. Their rich culinary heritage has immense respect in the community. The Kozhikode Biryani is prepared with the use of Khyma rice, which is tempered with spices responsible for its signature taste.
Assamese Kampuri Biryani
Originally from the Muslim town in Assam, it soon gained fame over a majority of the regions as a favourite. In simple words, the dish is colourful and delicious. The chicken is primarily cooked with various vegetables like peas, carrots potatoes, capsicums, and beans with spices after which it is mixed with rice.
The Bombay Biryani is derived from the Irani style of Biryani. It is accompanied with a side of meat gravy. The Biryani in question is sweeter and contains more oil and fried onions than the other varieties. The base is similar to Bhatkali Biryani, while it also draws influences from Mangalore and Gujarat.
Dindigul Thalappakatti Biriyani
This particular type of Biryani originated from Dindigul, Tamil Nadu. Apart from the meat, spices and meat, curd and lemon juice are majorly used to give a sour and tangy taste to this Biryani.
An integral part of the cuisine of Memons of the Gujarat and Sindh region of India and Pakistan, it is known to be extremely spicy. How it differs in the recipe than the Sindhi Biryani is that it uses fewer tomatoes in the preparation. It also uses fewer elements of food colouring as opposed to other styles, drawing the real colours from the elements of the dish.
Popular in Hyderabad as the common man’s biryani, this is a variation of the dish that uses small cubes of buffalo meat instead of full pieces and then cooked in the way of a regular Hyderabadi biryani. It is alleged that this type of Biryani originated from Bidar, Karnataka and came to Hyderabad when one of the Nawabs of the Kalyani Nawabs migrated to Hyderabad.
Sri Lankan Biryani
As Sri Lanka has a lot of Tamil population, a majority of their cuisines have also followed their way into the country and so has the Tamil Biryani. The first shop to sell biryani was known as Buhari’s which is how the Biryani is now known in Sri Lanka as Buryani. The Buryani any day is much spicier than any Indian variety.
This version of Biryani gathered immense popularity during the time of Safavid dynasty. The dish involved cooking of meat with various spices along with pomegranate, prunes and raisins which gave it a sweet-like taste, in an oven and then served with steamed rice.
This Burmese dish has its name derived from the Persian dum pukht. It is a Burmese alternative to Indian Biryani and is very similar in taste.
This Indonesian version of Biryani is inspired by its neighbouring countries and has the fusion of many elements from different cuisines. It is made with rice, ghee and meat and is truly unique in taste.
Middle Eastern Biryani
There are lots of similarities in the cuisine palate of India and Middle East. Hence Biryani and Kebabs are a usual part of the staple diet in both of the regions. It is popular in Iraq, Bahrain and other Middle Eastern nations. Their Biryani differs from the Indian version as they use more saffron in quantity than the Indian kind.
Afghanistan has its own variant of biryani. The Biryani there has a stronger use of saffron for colour and highly employs the use of dry fruits in the preparation.