History of Biryani in India | Different Types of Biryani in India

Biryani is an evergreen dish since it’s inception and it do not require any introduction.India has a lot of dish to offer on it’s culinary platter but one dish which unanimously love indulging is the mouth-watering Biryani.India has  a variety of Biryani’s to offer.Some are locally flavoured and few are improvised versions of other.Each Biryani preparation differ from each other but the taste of biryani will amaze you each time.But, did you ever wondered about the History of Biryani in India? Let us try to take all of you to the extraordinary journey of Biryani.

Many of us may think that Biryani to be an Indian origin dish.In reality Biryani has originated far far away from India.The word Biryani has it’s own meaning,Biryani is derived from the Persian word Birian, which means ‘fried before cooking’ and  Birinj, the Persian word for rice.There are multiple theories about how biryani made its way to India, it is generally accepted that it originated in West Asia.

First story suggest that is was the Turk-Mongol conqueror, Timur,brought Biryani with him when he arrived at the frontiers of India in 1398.It was then the war campaign diet of Timur’s army.An earthen pot full of rice, spices and whatever meats were available would be cooked completely being eventually served to the warriors.

The second story suggests that Biryani made it’s way from  the southern Malabar coast of India by Arab traders who were frequent visitors. There was  a rice dish known as Oon Soru in Tamil literature.Oon Soru was said to be made of rice, ghee, meat, turmeric, coriander, pepper, and bay leaf, and was used to feed military warriors.

However, the most popular story traces the origins of the dish to Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan’s beautiful queen who inspired the Taj Mahal.

Photo Source:alchetron.com

It is said that once Mumtaz Mahal once visited the Army Barrack and was really disappointed to see the Mughal Army weak and exausted.Mumtaz asked the Cook(chef) to prepare a special dish that has Rice and Meat combined with all necessary spices,which would provide the warriors with adequate nutrition and energy.At that time the rice was fried in Ghee (Clarified Butter) with Meat and Spices and a few drops of saffron to add flavours.It was then cooked over fire wood and was served to the Warriors.This story is beleived to be the History of Biryani in India.

The Nizams of Hyderabad and Nawabs of Lucknow were also famous for their Biryani. Their chefs were renowned the world over for their signature dishes.The perfect biryani is prefectly measured ingredients and a practised technique.The dum pukht method (slow breathing oven in Persian) was used to make biryani. In this method, the ingredients are loaded in a pot and slow cooked over charcoal for hours.

Other than technique the spices play a signicficant role in Biryani.Few of them use as few as 5-6 spices and few of them uses 18-20 different spices to stir it up.The Meat or Chicken is the main ingredients which decides the flavour of the Biryani.Though few of them also uses Prawn,Crabs and Fishes to give it a different flavour.Use of Rose water and Kewra water is also common.

In general there are two types of Biryani;

1.Kutchi Biryani → The meat is layered with raw rice in a handi (a thick bottomed pot) and cooked,

2.Pakki Biryani → It is cooked meat and rice are layered in the handi, where they come together in a of flavour.

The evolution of Biryani has came across many centuries,many cultures,many cooking styles.From a Army dish to a Royal dish Biryani has seen it all.In India You can find a different variety of Biryani in different part of the nation.Wherever you eat Biryani,the emotional connection will remain the same afterall it is Biryani.

Here is the list of Biryani you can find in different parts of India.

  • Lucknowi Biryani
  • Kolkata Biryani
  • Hyderabadi Biryani
  • Mughlai Biryani
  • Dindigul Biryani
  • Arcot Biryani
  • Memoni Biryani
  • Thalassery Biryani
  • Kampuri Biryani
  • Tahari Biryani
  • Beary Biryani
  • Sindhi Biryani
  • Bhatkali Biryani
  • Bombay Biryani
  • Doodh ki Biryani

1.Lucknowi Biryani

Lucknowi Biryani

Cooked in a slow process over a period of time.The texture of Lucknowi Biryani is softer and the spices are 
0n the low’s.You will get taste of each spice equally and every spice has it’s own characterstics in the biryani.The chicken is very tinder in Lucknowi biryani as it is cooked in chicken stock infused with whole spices.This makes it a Royal Awadh Biryani.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

2.Kolkata Biryani

Kolkata Biryani

The Nawab of Lucknow Wajid Ali Shah tried to recreate his Lucknowi Biryani in the city of Kolkata.Due to budget constraints his local cooks replaced the meats with deep fried potatoes.Which is now the signatute of Kolkata Biryani.This biryani is low on spices and uses yougurt as a primary ingridient in marination.The rice is half cooked separately and later infused together into Kolkata Biryani.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

3.Hyderabadi Biryani

Hyderabadi Biryani

The famous Hyderabadi Biryani came into being after Emperor Aurangzeb appointed Niza-Ul-Mulk as the new ruler of Hyderabad. His chefs reportedly created almost 50 different versions that used fish, shrimp, quail, deer, and even hare meat. While most other biryanis are dominated by their flavoured meat, in the layered Hyderabadi biryani, the aromatic saffron  flavoured rice is the star of the dish. Hyderabad was also the place where the Kacchi Akhni Biryani was fine tuned and perfected.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

4.Mughlai Biryani

The Mughal Emperors were very fond of lavish dining experiences and looked upon cooking as an art. The regal Mughlai biryani fit the bill perfectly. Succulent chunks of perfectly spiced meat, enveloped in kewra scented rice, emanate an irresistible aroma that makes one hungry instantly. This biryani definitely smells and tastes royal !

5.Dindigul Biryani

Dindigul Biryani

A much-loved local favourite, Chennai has many outlets dedicated to serving just the Dindigul biryani. The jeera samba rice used in making this biryani is distinctive and gives it an entirely different flavour. Also, instead of large chunks of meat, Dindigul biryani uses tiny cube-sized meat pieces. Curd and lemon lend the biryani its tangy taste, while the liberal use of pepper leaves its fiery mark on the palate.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

6. Arcot Biryani

Arcot Biryani

Introduced by the Nawabs of Arcot, this biryani originated in the towns of Ambur and Vaniyambadi in the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu. The biryani is generally accompanied by dalcha (a sour brinjal curry) and pachadi (a type of raita). The best known sub-variety of the Arcot biryani is the Ambur biryani that uses the squat seeraga samba rice, a traditional Tamil Nadu variety.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

7.Memoni Biryani

Memoni Biryani

Similar to the Sindhi biryani, this extremely spicy variety is made by the Memons of the Gujarat-Sindh region. Usually made with lamb, yoghurt, browned onions and potatoes, Memoni biryani uses less food colouring compared to other biryanis. This allows the natural colours and flavours of the various components- meat, rice and vegetables – to emerge and shine  in this traditional dish.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

8.Thalassery Biryani

Thalassery Biryani

The Thalassery biryani, one of India’s most loved biryanis, is both sweet and savoury. The main ingredients are soft chicken wings, mild Malabar spices and a type of rice known as kaima. Lots of sauteed cashew nuts, sultana raisins and fennel seeds are used generously in preparing this biryani. The rice is cooked separately from the gravy and mixed only at the time of serving.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

9.Kampuri Biryani

Kampuri Biryani

The Kampuri biryani originated from the town of Kampur in Assam. In this simple yet delicious dish, the chicken is first cooked with peas, carrots, beans, potatoes, and yellow bell peppers. This concoction is then mildly spiced with cardamom and nutmeg before being mixed with the rice. This little-known biryani, which fuses the fresh flavours of local vegetables into meat, is an ode to the Assamese flair for creating distinctive dishes.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

10.Tahari Biryani

Tahari Biryani

Tahari biryani is cooked without meat. Typically, rice is cooked along with different kind of vegetables in a handi with potatoes and carrots being the most used vegetables in this dish. Legend has it that this biryani was created in Mysore when Tipu Sultan hired vegetarian Hindus as his bookkeepers. Thus, a vegetarian version of a cult dish was born. Tahari is also a popular street food in Kashmir.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

11.Beary Biryani

Beary Biryani

A cousin of the spicier Mangalore biryani, the Beary Biryani belongs to the Muslim community of the Dakshin Kannada region in Karnataka. The predominant flavour is of the rice, which is kept in a mixture of ghee and spices overnight. This process allows all the potent flavours to seep into the rice. The light dish is also highly versatile and uses all kinds of locally available meat and seafood.

12.Sindhi Biryani

Sindhi Biryani

Unlike any other biryani, the Sindhi Biryani is loaded with finely slit green chillies, fragrant spices, and roasted nuts.A distinctive characteristic is the addition of aloo bukhara (plums) in the spices, which gives the biryani a beautiful aroma; lots of khatta (sour yoghurt) in the layering gives a tangy note to the spice mix.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

13.Bhatkali Biryani

Bhatkali Biryani

The Bhatkali biryani is an integral part of the Navayath cuisine and a speciality of Bhatkal, a coastal town in Karnataka, where it is a must-have at wedding feasts. The meat is cooked in an onion and green chilli based masala and layered with fragrant rice. The Bhatkali biryani has a unique spicy and heady flavour that sets it apart from the other biryanis of coastal Karnataka.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

14.Bombay Biryani

Bombay Biryani

The Bombay biryani is a melting pot of flavours – spicy, hearty and zesty. Bombay biryani, whether it’s made with chicken, mutton or vegetables, always has fried spiced potatoes too.  It also has a slight sweetness to it, which comes from dried plums and kewra water. It may not be as famous as the other varieties, but this biryani still finds a place in the hearts of all who taste it.This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

15.Doodh ki Biryani

Doodk ki Biryani

An absolutely unique Hyderabadi speciality, Doodh ki Biryani is known for its light flavours. The blending of creamy milk with roasted nuts and aromatic spices results in a dish that is subtle, refined, and delicately flavoured. Definitely a gem among the regal biryanis of the Hyderabadi Nizams!This biryani holds important place in history of biryani in india.

Biryani itself is a complete meal.

Biryani has enough varieties to please one and all. This is also a dish that suits all occasions – whether it is a lazy Sunday lunch, a boisterous college get-together or a formal dinner with the in-laws. Eaten with love and gusto by the rich as well as poor, biryani is indeed a marvel of India’s culinary heritage.

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