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Go to any corner of India and you’re sure to find at least one place that’ll have biryani on their menu. Chicken biryani, biryani with meat or vegetable biryani…in all its forms, biryani has become a household name in the Indian subcontinent. Rich, aromatic and absolutely delicious, biryani in all its glory is simply loved by the people of our country! Whether it’s a daawat or just hunger pangs, biryani often ends up being the perfect choice for most of us!
Ever since its introduction by the Muslim rulers and traders of yore (the origin of biryani is uncertain and many versions of it are to be found), this mouth-watering dish has carved a special place in the heart of Indian food aficionados. Over the years, biryani has undergone many improvisations, infusing regional flavours and cooking styles. Here’s a look at some of the many versions of Biryani…
Read on to find out all about biryani!
1. From the Mughal Durbar…Mughlai Biryani: Often regarded as the “original” biryani, this one is a specialty from the days of the Mughal dynasty, and has undergone many improvisations since its introduction in the Mughal kitchens! It’s available mostly in Delhi and its neighbouring areas in north India.
2. From the Awadhi Haven…Lucknowi Biryani: Lucknow is the haven of Awadhi cuisine and the biryani from this region continues to charm people till today! It’s cooked in the dum pukht method where both the meat and rice are cooked separately and then put in layers in a Handi, which is then sealed and locked, and cooked further over low heat for the ultimate finishing touch. Less on spices, the Lucknowi biryani is light and is a lot about the fragrance and flavours.
3. From the Sepoy Days…Kolkata Biryani: This one was introduced by the Awadhi chefs when the Nawabs of Lucknow got exiled in Kolkata after the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. The story goes on to say that due to the scarcity of meat during the exile days, potato was added along with the meat! Carrying on the tradition, Kolkata biryani has retained its unique flavour even today. The use of spices like nutmeg and kewra along with the yummy potatoes give this version of the biryani its signature flavour and aroma.
4. From the East Coast…Hyderabadi Biryani: Extremely rich and spicy, the Hyderabadi dum biryani is a perfect blend of the Mughlai and the Andhra style of cooking. Much loved by the people of south and north alike, making this dish is quite a challenge. The use of saffron and coconut gives this biryani its signature flavour, and unlike the other types of biryani, here the flavour of the saffron infused rice takes over the flavour of the meat.
5. From enchanting Tamil Nadu…Ambur Biryani: If you thought Hyderabadi biryani was the only biryani in south, then wait till you taste the rest! From the sleepy town of Ambur in Tamil Nadu comes one of south India’s best biryani. Rich and simply delicious, in Ambur biryani, the flavours of mint and coriander stand out distinctly. There are a few other things that give this biryani its unique flavour. For instance, the meat is soaked in curd and cooked separately before being added to the rice. Even the rice used is different – the Seeraga Samba rice, a traditional Tamil Nadu variety which is pretty similar to the Arborio rice used in risottos.
6. From God’s own Country…Thalassery Biryani or Malabar Biriyani: A reminder of the Mughal-Arab cultural influence in North Kerala, the Thalassery biryani or Malabar biriyani (folks in Kerala call it ‘biri-yaa-ni’ instead of ‘bir-yani’) is one of the renowned biryanis from the southern coast. It uses a small, fragrant variety of rice called Khaima/Jeerakasala rice. Southern biryanis are way more fascinating because of the amazing varieties of rice available here! A speciality of the Malabar region and other coastal areas like Kozhikode, Malappuram et al, the use of fish and prawns along with meat characterises the southern biryanis.
7. From the coasts of Karnataka…Bhatkali Biryani: Popular in coastal Karnataka and the Konkan belt, this Biryani style originated from the Nawayath community of Bhatkal, Karnataka. Less use of spices and the absence of ghee or oil give this form of the biryani a distinct taste and colour. Though there is an extraordinary amount of green chillies and onions used. In fact no other biryani uses as much onions as this one!
8. From aamchi Mumbai…Bombay Biryani: This one has very little to do with the Mughal influenced biryanis of north India. The distinguishing feature is the use of potatoes in both veg biryani and non-veg biryani, along with the use of an extensive range of flavouring spices.
9. From Gujarat…Memoni Biryani: Developed by the Memons of Gujarat, this version of the biryani is very similar to the Sindhi biryani. However it is prepared with lamb mostly and they also make use of tomatoes and other flavouring ingredients. There is less usage of food colouring compared to the other biryanis, so as to allow the rich, natural colours of the ingredients to shine forth.
10. From the Valley…Kashmiri Biryani: Not much is known about Kashmiri biryani but many believe that its origins can be traced back to the Mughals, who were regular visitors in the valley. Kashmiri cuisine is a blend of influences from Islamic invaders from Persia, Afghanistan and other areas as well as the Kashmiri Pandits. The use of hing or asafoetida along with dry fruits and aromatic flavours give it a quintessential taste unique to the Kashmir valley.
There are probably more varieties of Biryani than there are tales of its origins! A rich and royal culinary treat for all foodies; biryani sure can be regarded as the most popular and most loved dish in India.
So how many of these have you tasted so far?? Write to us and let us know!
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