BIRYANI… and its 9 avatars totally worth falling for
“Biryani is bae”, “I’m in love with Biryani”, “Biryani, meri jaan”.
There is something so special about biryani that you cannot help but fall for it. In India, every region, every family has its own favourite biryani recipe. Cooking Biryani at home is a treat and tease to all our senses.
The irresistible aroma of Basmati rice, arousing smells of ginger and garlic, an eclectic mix of spices, the sound of tossing meat/vegetables in ghee…. an intimate love affair indeed!
Be it mom’s secret recipe or a plate of biryani from your favourite restaurant, each has a distinct taste that contents the soul like nothing else. Some varieties of biryani have rich flavours, others have subtle and earthy ones; yet others might be spicy and some might be tangy.
We’ve put together some of the more famous biryani types, to help you appreciate this Ms. World pageant winner better.
1. Hyderabadi Biryani
This is perhaps the most famous one. Brought to India by the Mughals, the Hyderabadi biryani adorns a generous amount of whole spices like cardamom, star anise and cinnamon.
It’s usually prepared by layering method– which simply means that semi cooked basmati rice (drizzled with kesar water) and raw meat/vegetables (mutton or chicken) are layered one on top of the other, and cooked in a closed pot on low heat until the meat and rice are cooked through and the flavours from the meat have emanated into the rice.
Generous amount of fresh mint and coriander leaves adds to its irresistible taste. A Hyderabadi biryani is customarily served with mirch ka salan or raita.
2. Lucknowi Biryani
When it came to the Nawabs of Lucknow, Biryani was a show-stopper for royal feasts. Rich, deep but subtle, and elegant, the Awadhi/Lucknowi Biryani truly epitomises the lifestyle of the royals.
Flavoured with kewra/screwpine water and whole spices, it is loved by those who have a low tolerance for spicy food. This too can be made using the layering method followed by cooking it on a dum (sealed pot on a very low flame).
Some prefer to go for the easier method of cooking both the protein and the rice separately and then layering it. This also gives good results, but purists will always favour the traditional method.
3. Bombay Biryani
Almost every Indian state has created its own avatar of India’s favourite dish and the city of dreams lags in no way. The Bombay biryani is a charming cousin of Lucknowi Biryani and tends to be a little on the sweeter side, owing to the addition of prunes to it. You will also find potatoes and cashews, along with the meat.
It sprawls with flavours indeed. Bombay biryani uses green chillies to bring a fresh spiciness to the dish that goes perfectly with the sweetness of the prunes, making it irresistible for those who love it sweet and spicy. <palate tingling>
4. Ambur Biryani
When you’re in Tamil Nadu, it’d be hard for you to miss the numerous shops selling only Ambur biryani, and nothing else. This Biryani particularly stands out from the rest because of the kind of rice used – seeraga samba rice– which lends a very earthy flavour to the dish.
The dominant flavours are that of coriander and mint along with the protein used. The general idea is to prepare the protein (marinated with curd and spices) and the rice separately until they’re 80% done and then drain the rice and add it to the chicken/mutton curry so it absorbs all the flavour from the curry. We’re drooling already, aren’t you?
5. Dindigul Biryani
Back to the south, Dindigul biryani leisurely uses black pepper and south Indian garam masala to up its flavour quotient. The protein is marinated with curd and lemon before being cooked, thus adding a fresh, tangy flavour profile to the biryani.
While the preparation can be similar to that of Ambur biryani, it most definitely holds its own when compared to any of the other biryanis, and might even show itself a winner among them. <Biryani Wars are real>
6. Tellicherry Biryani
Riding the recent wave of popularity is the Tellicherry or Malabar biryani. From the mesmerising coast of Kerala, this biryani is made with jeerakasala rice instead of basmati. It also is one of the simplest Biryani’s to prepare. <Yeay…there’s a biryani for every kinda cook in the house!>
The rice and protein are cooked separately, and once it’s time to serve, both are mixed, topped with fried onions, cashews and coriander and brought to the table, customarily in the same pot it was prepared in. Usually served with raita or coconut chutney, the Malabar Biryani is your easiest route to fame.
7. Kolkata BIiryani
Beautifully balancing the strong aroma, the long-grained rice and the succulent meat pieces, Kolkata Biryani is a gastronomic poetry. Made with chicken or mutton, the flavour of the Kolkata biryani is enhanced with spices such as nutmeg, which are used so delicately that you’d be left guessing what that hint of magical flavour is – it makes itself known, but doesn’t steal the thunder away from the star ingredients of the dish.
Like the Bombay biryani, this one too sees the addition of potatoes but along with it, also boiled eggs. If you’ve ever tasted the Kolkata biryani, you’ll know you can never have enough of it, whether you enjoy it from a street vendor or from a restaurant.
8. Sindhi Biryani
The Sindhi cuisine is widely known for its spicy and aromatic food, and the Sindhi biryani is a perfect paragon of it. Made sufficiently spicy with fresh green chillies and dried red ones, Its gonna make you wanting another spoonful, yet enough for you to break a sweat.
The spice levels are beautifully balanced with prunes, teasing your palate for another bite. The protein in the Sindhi biryani is marinated in sour curd, making it tender and lending a tangy taste to the biryani.
9. Tahari Biryani
As part of the Awadhi cuisine, the Tahari biryani is what some might call pulao, since it doesn’t include any meat. However, it is technically biryani. We could probably debate on it till the end of time, but let’s not right? Afterall, all’s well that tastes well 🙂
Tahari biryani is cooked rice flavoured with whole Indian spices. Sometimes potatoes or soya chunks are added to it to give it a better mouth experience and to make it a whole meal, complete with vegetables. The rajas of Awadh who didn’t partake of meat were served this rice preparation, cooked specially for them in the royal kitchens.
Well…. You may not be able to travel to all the above historic cities to experience their culture and cuisine all the time but a hot, steaming plate of sumptuous Biryani will definitely gonna get you close enough to experiencing them. Afterall, Biryani isn’t just a dish!