The exotic, exploding flavours arising from the unique Biryani spice blend brings a refreshing mouthfeel and its vibrant colors in the plate becomes a complete visual treat. Biryani has such appetizing flavours that every time we hear its name, we crave it and end up relishing it in our next meal.
Weekend is incomplete without Biryani. Even if a weekend goes without it, the inner restlessness that emerges next is enough to make you realise your Biryani longing. Soon, you will find yourself making Biryani with the ready to cook biryani masala at home.
No doubt that the absolutely scrumptious Indian rice & chicken dish, Biryani, is a classic of Indian cuisine that has a wide appeal all over the nation. With such fame, it may appear that Biryani is indigenous to India with the people of the subcontinent, consuming it for centuries but you would be surprised to find that this dish has its influences and roots quite far away.
Let’s take a tour of how Biryani travelled to the Indian land and developed its many regional versions which are savoured today in various Indian states.
The Tale Of Biryani & Its Introduction To The Indian Subcontinent
Mughals established a strong foothold in the Indian land in the early 16th century and ruled large parts of India for more than three centuries. The Mughal era is known for its extravagance, splendid architecture, cross cultural interactions, and delectable food. It introduced us to a whole range of foreign cuisines which were then modified, impoverished, and relished with new ingredients from the new land.
Biryani is one of the Mughalai dishes which came along during this period and later on, became an eminent part of Indian cuisine. Having a truckload of veggies and juicy chunks of meat, Biryani is said to have originated among the royal khansamas of Old Delhi durbar during the 16th century and also has an interesting backstory to its name.
The word “Biryani” comes from the Persian term, “Birian” which translates to “fried before cooking”. So it can be deduced that since the name of the dish is of Persian origin, Biryani is a delicacy that has its roots in present-day Iran.
An interesting anecdote that has been popular about the origin of Biryani is that the dish was first cooked when Queen Mumtaz Mahal (1593-1631), in the memory of whom Shah Jahan got the Taj Mahal built, dropped by the army barracks and found the army personnel deployed there heavily undernourished.
It was then when the Queen conferred with the royal chefs to come up with a nutritive dish that provided balanced nutrition to their troops and kept them in good physical shape and health. Thus, the inventive Khansamas combined both meat, vegetables, spices, and rice in a preparation and came up with Biryani which is packed with rich nutrition, has a good taste, and high protein.
It is said that Biryani was served in the royal courts of the Mughal era and in royal feast, lavishly savored by the kings and queens to become their preferred staple due to this royal connection.
What makes Biryani truly brilliant is its seasoning with aromatic spices like cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, and more. The addition of dried fruits and nuts supplements its texture and flavor and make it more delectable.
Many regional Biryanis have emerged over the years such as Luchnowi or the Nawabi Biryani, Hyderabadi or Biryani from the kitchens of Nizams, Kolkata Biryani, and more. However, Biryani is largely prepared in two cooking styles – Pakki Biryani & Kacchi Biryani, both of which provide a unique flavour to respective Biryanis.
In Kacchi Biryani preparation style, meat is marinated in hot spices and soaked in yogurt for long hours, only to be cooked together with rice, spices, and veggies later on;
On the other hand, Pakki Biryani cooking style (well-cooked version), rice and meat are prepared separately first and then cooked together to render it with exploding flavours of garlic, ginger, mint, coriander, fennel seeds, and more.
Hyderabadi Biryani can be prepared with both preparation methods, however, Lucknowi Biryani is dum-cooked in pakki Biryani style.
Not everyone is a culinary expert, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t have the goodness of Hyderabadi or Lucknowi Biryani in your home-made meals, all you need to do is get instant biryani paste like Hyderabadi Biryani Masala and prepare a serving that gets the authentic of the Hyderabadi Biryani just right. Or just order from a restaurant and enjoy!
Also Read: Hyderabadi Biryani vs Lucknowi Biryani – The Biryani Battle Gets Spicier
Over the years, Biryani has become South Asia’s most prized trademarks that has been adapted to individual tastes and styles. It takes specific culinary skills to produce authentic taste of diverse Biryanis just right which are perfected over long years. The way one prepares Biryani speaks a lot about their cultural influences & heritage and Biryani of diverse kinds are savoured with absolute zeal!