|Alternative names||Biriyani, biriani, buriyani, breyani,briani|
|Place of origin||South Asia|
|Main ingredients||Rice, Indian spices, base (vegetables, meat or egg), yoghurt, other optional ingredients (e.g. dried fruits)|
|Cookbook: Biryani Media: Biryani|
Biryani (pronounced [bɪr.jaːniː]), also known as biriyani or biriani, is a mixed rice dish with its origins among the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. It is popular throughout the subcontinent and among the diaspora from the region. It is made with spices, rice, lentils, meat and vegetables.
The word "biryani" is an Urdu word derived from the Persian language, which was used as an official language in different parts of medieval India, by various Islamic dynasties. One theory is that it originates from "birinj", the Persian word for rice. Another theory is that it derives from "biryan" or "beriyan" (to fry or roast).
The origin of the dish is uncertain. In North India, different varieties of biryani developed in the Muslim centers of Delhi (Mughlai cuisine), Lucknow (Awadhi cuisine) and other small principalities. In South India, where rice is more widely used as a staple food; several distinct varieties of biryani emerged from Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. Andhra is the only region of South India that does not have many native varieties of biryani.
According to Lizzie Collingham, the modern biryani was created in the Mughal royal kitchen, as a confluence of the native spicy rice dishes of India and the Persian pilaf. According to Kris Dhillon, the modern Biryani originated in Persia, and was brought to India by the Mughals. However, another theory claims that the dish was known in India before the first Mughal emperor Babur came to India. The 16th century Mughal text Ain-i-Akbari makes no distinction between biryanis and pulao: it states that the word "biryani" is of older usage in India. A similar theory—that biryani came to India with Timur's invasion—also appears to be incorrect, because there is no record of biryani having existed in his native land during that period.
According to Pratibha Karan, the biryani is of South Indian origin, derived from pilaf varieties brought to India by the Arab traders. She speculates that the pulao was an army dish in medieval India: the armies, unable to cook elaborate meals, would prepare a one-pot dish where they cooked rice with whichever meat was available. Over time, the dish became biryani due to different methods of cooking, with the distinction between "pulao" and "biryani" being arbitrary. According to Vishwanath Shenoy, the owner of a biryani restaurant chain in India, one branch of biryani comes from the Mughals, while another was brought by the Arab traders to Calicut (Kozhikode) in South India.
Difference between biryani and pulao
Pilaf or pulao, as it is known in the South Asia, is another mixed rice dish popular in Indian and Pakistani cuisine. Although some of its varieties are associated with Persian influence in northern India (including modern day Pakistan) through the Mughal invasion, it is also mentioned in ancient Hindu texts such as Yājñavalkya Smṛti as pulāka (meaning "a ball of rice"). Opinions differ on the differences between pulao and biryani, and whether there is a difference between the two at all.
Pratibha Karan states that while the terms are often applied arbitrarily, the main distinction is that a biryani comprises two layers of rice with a layer of meat (or vegetables) in the middle; the pulao is not layered.
- Biryani is the primary dish in a meal, while the pulao is usually a secondary accompaniment in a larger meal
- In biryani, meat and rice are cooked separately before being layered and cooked together. Pulao is a single-pot dish: meat and rice are simmered in a liquid until the liquid is absorbed. However, some other writers, such as Holly Shaffer (based on her observations in Lucknow), R. K. Saxena and Sangeeta Bhatnagar have reported pulao recipes in which the rice and meat are cooked separately and then mixed before the dum cooking.
- Biryanis have more complex and stronger spices, compared to pulao. The British-era author Abdul Halim Sharar mentions this as the primary difference between biryani and pulao: the biryani has a stronger taste of curried rice due to a higher amount of spices.
The spices and condiments used in biryani may include ghee (clarified butter), nutmeg, mace, pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, mint leaves, ginger, onions, and garlic. The premium varieties include saffron. For a non-vegetarian biryani, the main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the chicken and mutton, special varieties also use beef, pork and seafood. The dish may be served with dahi chutney or raita, korma, curry, a sour dish of aubergine (brinjal), boiled egg (optional), and salad.
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There are two basic types of biryani: pakki ("cooked", also pukka) and kacchi ("raw", also kutchi). In pakki biryani, the cooked meat and cooked rice are layered. In the kacchi biryani, raw marinated meat is layered with raw rice before being cooked together.It is also known as kacchi yeqni. It is cooked typically with chicken and mutton but rarely with fish and prawn. The dish is cooked layered with the meat and the yogurt based marinade at the bottom of the cooking pot and the layer of rice (usually basmati rice) placed over it. Potatoes are often added before adding the rice layer. The pot is usually sealed (typically with wheat dough) to allow cooking in its own steam and not opened until it is ready to serve.
The non-vegetarian biryani may include chicken, mutton and sea food among types of meat. Although originally cooked with meat, biryani is now also cooked with vegetables, especially in India, where a substantial number of people practice vegetarianism. The vegetable biryani is prepared with rice, masala and non-meat ingredients such as potatoes and cauliflowers. Egg biryani is another type of biryani.
- Tahari, Tehri or Tehari are variants on the name given to the vegetarian version of Biryani. It was developed for the Hindu bookkeepers of the Muslim Nawabs. It is prepared by adding the potatoes to the rice as opposed to the case of traditional Biryani, where the rice is added to the meat. In Kashmir, Tehari is sold as street food. Tehri became more popular during World War II, when meat prices increased substantially and potato became the popular substitute in biryani.
- Beef biryani
- Beef biryani, as the name implies, uses beef as meat. In Hyderabad, it is famous as Kalyani biryani, in which beef (buffalo meat) is used in preparing the Kalyani biryani. This meal was started after the Kalyani Nawabs of Bidar came to Hyderabad sometime in the 18th century. The Kalyani biryani is made with small cubes of beef, regular spices, onions and lots of tomatoes. It has a distinct tomato, jeera, dhania flavour. In Kerala, beef biryani is very famous.
List of varieties by region or culture
- Sindhi biryani
- The exotic and aromatic Sindhi Biryani is a phenomenal choice for the Biryani lovers in Pakistan for its spicy taste, fragrant rice and delicate meat. Sindhi Biryani is a beloved staple in food menus in the Pakistani cuisine and Sindhi cuisine. Sindhi Biryani is prepared with meat and an amalgamation of Basmati rice, vegetables and various types of spices. Sindhi Biryani is proudly served by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in almost all of their international flights.
- Hyderabadi biryani
- Hyderabadi Biryani is definitely one of India's most famous Biryanis, they say " Biryani is synonymous to Hyderabad."  Hyderabadi biryani developed under the rule of Asaf Jah I, who had been appointed as the Governor of Deccan by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. It is made with basmati rice, spices and goat. Popular variations use chicken instead of goat.There are various forms of Hyderabadi biryani. One such biryani is the kachay gosht ki biryani or the dum biryani, where the mutton is marinated and cooked along with the rice. It is left on slow fire or dum for a fragrant and aromatic flavour.
- Thalassery biryani
- Thalassery Biryani, is the only variation of Biryani, found in the Indian state of Kerala. The dish is one of the many dishes of the Malabar Muslim community, and a very popular one at that.
- The ingredients are chicken, spices and the specialty is the choice of rice named Khyma. Khyma rice is generally mixed with ghee. Although a huge amount of spices such as mace, cashew nuts, sultana raisins, fennel-cumin seeds, tomato, onion, ginger, garlic, shallot, cloves and cinnamon are used, there is only a small amount of chili (or chili powder) used in the preparation.
- A pakki biryani, the Thalassery biryani uses a small-grained thin (not round) fragrant variety of rice known as Khyma or Jeerakasala. The dum method of preparation (sealing the lid with dough (maida) or cloth and placing red hot charcoal above the lid) is applied here.
- Calcutta biryani
- Calcutta or Kolkata biryani evolved from the Lucknow style, when Awadh's last Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was exiled in 1856 to the Kolkata suburb of Metiabruz. Shah brought his personal chef with him. The poorer households of Kolkata, which could not afford meat, used potatoes instead, which went on to become a specialty of the Calcutta biryani. Now meat is also served along with it. The Calcutta biryani is much lighter on spices. It primarily uses nutmeg, cinnamon, mace along with cloves and cardamom in the yoghurt based marinade for the meat which is cooked separately from rice. This combination of spices gives it a distinct flavour as compared to other styles of biryani. The rice is flavoured with ketaki water or rose water along with saffron to give it flavour and light yellowish colour.
- Ambur/Vaniyambadi biryani
- Ambur/Vaniyambadi biryani is a type of biryani cooked in neighboring towns of Ambur & Vaniyambadi in the Vellore district in the north-eastern part of Tamil Nadu, which has a high Muslim population. It was introduced by the Nawabs of Arcot who once ruled the place.
- The Ambur/Vaniyambadi biryani is accompanied with 'dhalcha', a sour brinjal curry and 'pachadi' or raitha, which is sliced onions mixed with plain curd, tomato, chillies and salt. It has a distinctive aroma and is considered light on stomach and the usage of spice is moderate and curd is used as a gravy base. It also has a higher ratio of meat to rice.
- Memoni biryani
- Memoni biryani is an extremely spicy variety developed by the Memons of Gujarat-Sindh region in India and Pakistan. It is made with lamb, yogurt, fried onions, and potatoes, and fewer tomatoes compared to Sindhi biryani. Memoni biryani also uses less food colouring compared to other biryanis, allowing the rich colours of the various meats, rice, and vegetables to blend without too much of the orange colouring.
- Dindigul biryani
- The Dindigul town of Tamil Nadu is noted for its biryani, which uses a little curd and lemon juice to get a tangy taste.
- The Bohri biryani, prepared by the Bohris is flavoured with a lot of tomatoes. It is very popular in Karachi.
- Kalyani biryani
- Kalyani biryani is a typical biryani from Hyderabad. Also known as the 'poor man's' Hyderabadi biryani, the Kalyani biryani is always made from small cubes of buffalo meat.
- The meat is flavoured with ginger, garlic, turmeric, red chili, cumin, coriander powder, lots of onion and tomato. It is first cooked as a thick curry and then cooked along with rice. Then given dum (the Indian method of steaming in a covered pot).
- The Kalyani biryani is supposed to have originated in the Bidar during the reign of the Kalyani Nawabs, who migrated to Hyderabad after one of the nawabs, Ghazanfur Jang married into the Asaf Jahi family. The Kalyani biryani was served by the Kalyani nawabs to all of their subjects who came from Bidar to Hyderabad and stayed or visited their devdi or noble mansion.
- This was the practice for many decades. But after Operation Polo in which the Indian army took over Hyderabad State, the state of the nobles went into decline. Some of their illustrious cooks set up their own stalls and introduced the Kalyani biryani. to the local populace of Hyderabad.
International styles and variations
In Myanmar (Burma), biryani is known in Burmese as danpauk or danbauk, from Persian dum pukht. Featured ingredients include cashew nuts, yogurt, raisins and peas, chicken, cloves, cinnamon, saffron and bayleaf. In Burmese biryani, the chicken is cooked with the rice.[better source needed] biryani is also eaten with a salad of sliced onions and cucumber.
Middle East (Arab nations)
One form of "Arabic" biryani is the Iraqi preparation (برياني: "biryani"), where the rice is usually saffron-based with chicken usually being the meat or poultry of choice. Most variations also include vermicelli, fried onions, fried potato cubes, almonds and raisins spread liberally over the rice. Sometimes, a sour/spicy tomato sauce is served on the side (maraq).
During the Safavid dynasty (1501–1736), a dish called Berian (Nastaliq script: بریان پلو) was made with lamb or chicken, marinated overnight – with yogurt, herbs, spices, dried fruits like raisins, prunes or pomegranate seeds – and later cooked in a tannour oven. It was then served with steamed rice.
Nasi kebuli is an Indonesian spicy steamed rice dish cooked in goat broth, milk and ghee. Nasi kebuli is descended from Kabuli Palaw which is an Afghani rice dish, similar to biryani served in South Asia.
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