It is believed that the Mughals brought the biryani to India, but as the recipe travelled to different parts of the country, it got a regional twist with local flavours and variations.
By Reya Mehrotra
It is believed that the Mughals brought the biryani to India, but as the recipe travelled to different parts of the country, it got a regional twist with local flavours and variations. With Eid al-Adha around the corner, we bring to you some variations of biryani from across the country to try out.
Lucknowi biryani is also called Awadhi biryani and pukka biryani. It is generally cooked in the dum pukht style, where vegetables and meat are cooked in spices over low flame, sealed with dough. The rice, flavoured with saffron, star anise and cinnamon, is cooked separately. Both are then layered and cooked together on low flame until the flavours blend completely. At times, nuts and milk are used too. This unique cooking process gives it a strong aroma and taste.
Hyderabadi biryani is one of the most popular biryanis in India. While preparing this, half-boiled rice is layered with mint, fried onions, spicy cooked mutton/chicken and sealed with dough and cooked. It has two varieties—kachchi and pakki biryani. The former is made with raw meat, which is marinated, soaked in curd and placed between layers of rice, infused with dried fruits, saffron and onions, and slow-cooked in a dough-sealed earthen pot. The latter is made by cooking meat and rice separately and layering them together.
Kolkata’s biryani is known for its pinch of sweetness. Apart from the usual biryani ingredients like yoghurt-marinated tender meat, it has boiled egg and potato chunks. There’s a sparing use of spices and it is cooked with yellow rice. Nutmeg, saffron, kewra add to the aroma. It is said that the chef of Wajid Ali Shah, the last ruler of Awadh, introduced potatoes to biryani in place of meat to make it cheaper when the Nawab was exiled in 1856 to Kolkata. This gradually became the style of Kolkata biryani.
Ambur biryani, or vaniyambadi biryani, comes from Tamil Nadu. It is usually prepared in coconut milk and served with a variety of vegetable dishes. It is said to have been introduced by the nawabs of Arcot in the region. It is usually made with samba rice and has moderate usage of spices. The ratio of meat to rice is higher and its gravy base is that of curd.
Memoni biryani comes from the Gujarat-Sindh regions and is a spicier version. It consists of curd, lamb, slit chillies, fried onions, potatoes and some tomatoes. It retains the natural and rich colours of the meat and vegetables.
This biryani comes from Kerala and uses khaima rice instead of the usual basmati. It is popular among the Malabar area of Kerala and uses spices like fennel seeds, cumin seeds, mace, as well as cashewnuts, tomato, onion, ginger, cinnamon, shallots, cloves and so on. The rice and meat are cooked separately and mixed while serving. It has a sweet and spicy flavour. Malabari fish biryani is also popular in the region and uses fish fillets instead of chicken or meat.
Sindhi biryani gets this name as it comes from the Sindh region. Roasted spices, mint and coriander leaves, chillies, sour yoghurt, dried fruits and nuts give the Sindhi biryani its flavour and aroma. Potatoes and plums are also added to it.
Beary biryani is consumed among a small population of Muslims in Dakshina Kannada, a district of Karnataka. The word beary means ‘trade or business’. It has a different taste than most biryanis. Chicken is cooked in a paste of spices and ground coconut is added while cooking. Rice is layered with a richly prepared chicken curry and eggs.
As the name suggests, this type of biryani originated in Mumbai. It consists of fried or spiced potatoes, chicken or meat and dried plums. It is served with onion and tomato raita. It has white cumin powder, green chillies, potatoes, spices, kewra and food colour. Half-cooked ice and cooked chicken are prepared in dum style. Potatoes are a must in Bombay biryani.
This is a biryani for vegetarians. It has potatoes and no meat. It is said that this type of vegetarian biryani was cooked for the Hindu book keepers of the Mughal court. Today, it is cooked in many north Indian vegetarian households. It can have only potatoes and rice and spices, or can include more vegetables like carrots, an array of spices, herbs and more.