Eid and Biryani are inseparable for most Indians. Biryani in India is often a festive and exotic delicacy; available in luxurious fine dining restaurants. At the same time, it is a regular street-side affair as well. We have infinite types of Biryani in India; the twist of cultural overlap and local influences over the original styles. The city of Hyderabad is said to be the Biryani Capital of India. The place alone hosts 40-50 types of Biryani in India.
Some believe that Biryani originated in Persia and was brought to India by the Mughals. Birinj in Persian means rice and Birian means rice which is fried. However, the most popular belief is that Biryani was introduced in Northern India by the Mughals; mainly for the nourishment of their soldiers. It was a simple one-pot dish rich in protein. Later on, it moved into the kitchens of the Nawabs with complex methods of cooking using exotic spices and ingredients. Slowly the notable Muslim centres developed a liking for Biryani. Southern India was introduced to this dish by the Arabs.
Let’s quickly look into 6 most popular types of Biryani in India:
From the Nizam’s ostentatious kitchen to the common man’s basic chullah; one food item is customary in Hyderabad. It is Biryani. The types of Biryani and ingredients used may differ; but Hyderabadi Biryani in a broader sense has an ambrosial image in the world. Well, why not? Premium Basmati rice, generous use of ghee, cardamoms, meat, saffron, mint, onion barista and dried fruits, slow-cooked on dough sealed earthen pot on charcoal flame make the Hyderabadi Biryani stand out.
Lucknowi or Awadhi Biryani tops the chart of types of Biryani in India. It is famous for the aroma of the spices used. Long grained Awra rice is used for cooking it. This is because the rice, unlike Basmati, doesn’t have its own flavour. So the aroma of kewra, rose water, nutmeg, saffron, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon, stand out. The rice and meat are cooked separately. Then they are layered in a deep button handi (vessel) with its lead sealed by dough. It is then slow-cooked. This method is called the ‘Dum Pukt’ style.
Calcutta/ Kolkata Biryani
I am from the city of Joy, Calcutta. I realise how Biryani symbolises emotions. Calcutta Biryani has a history attached to it. Awadh’s last Nawab, Wajid Ali Shah’s kingdom was annexed by the East India Company. He was exiled to Metiabruz, Calcutta, in 1856. The Nawab was granted a pension by the Company. With that, he brought along his chefs with him. His love for Biryani cannot be expressed in words. However, due to the lack of such financial affluence, there was a shortage of meat and exotic spices. His chefs made an extension of the Awadhi Biryani with the use of eggs and potatoes. This is how Calcutta Biryani is distinguished. Yellowish rice, yoghurt-based juicy meat, soft succulent boiled egg and perfectly golden fried potato; with a tinge of sweetness and sparingly used spices, make the Calcutta Biryani.
This sweet and spicy Biryani of the Malabar region of Kerala is unique in its own way. Unlike North Indian Biryani, long-grained rice is not used for these types of Biryani. Instead, short-grained Khyma or Jeerakasala rice is used. Malabar spices, fried onions, fennel seeds, raisins and sautéed cashews are prepared together. The rice is prepared separately. They are mixed just before serving.
Bombay Biryani is one of the most flavourful types of Biryani. It is highly influenced by the Sindhi Biryani which has its roots in Sindh in Pakistan. It is spicy, tangy, sweet and aromatic; lots of kewra, dried plums and prunes and spiced potatoes and meat are used for cooking.
This is the official Veg Biryani. It originated from the Mughals. It is Awadhi Biryani cooked with rice and carrots, cauliflower and other vegetables in the Dum Pukt style, as a replacement for meat. The idea of vegetable Biryani developed for feeding the Hindu book keeps at the Mughal Court.
There are broadly two styles of cooking Biryani: Kachchi and Pakki. Kachchi style is where the marinated meat and rice are cooked together with the spices. Pakki style is where rice and meat are cooked separately and then layered. Types of Biryani vary due to different ingredients, cooking time and cooking methods. Various kinds of meat, fish and even shrimps are used. However, chicken Biryani remains the most ordered dish of Biryani in India.
Biryani has India’s heart.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.