Biryani, a beloved and iconic dish, has captured the hearts and taste buds of people around the world. This fragrant and flavorful rice-based dish is a testament to the rich culinary heritage of South Asia. In this article, we will delve into the various types of biryani, their origins, and approximate prices, and recommend some famous restaurants where you can savour this delectable dish.
Origin of Biryani
Biryani’s exact origin is a topic of culinary debate and folklore, with multiple regions in South Asia laying claim to its creation. It is widely believed that biryani has been enjoyed for centuries, with historical references dating back to the Mughal era in the Indian subcontinent.
One theory suggests that biryani originated in Persia and was introduced to India by the Mughal emperors. The name “biryani” is said to be derived from the Persian word “biryan,” meaning ‘fried before cooking’ or ‘to roast.’
Another theory attributes the creation of biryani to the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where it was initially known as “Oon Soru” or “seasoned rice.” This dish was supposedly developed by the nawabs of Arcot, who were influenced by Persian cuisine.
Regardless of its origin, biryani has evolved to become a diverse and beloved dish with regional variations across the Indian subcontinent and beyond.
Types of Biryani
- Hyderabadi Biryani: Hyderabadi biryani is perhaps one of the most famous biryani types, hailing from the city of Hyderabad in India. It is characterized by the use of fragrant Basmati rice, marinated meat (usually chicken or mutton), and a blend of aromatic spices. The dish is traditionally cooked in layers, creating a harmonious fusion of flavours.
Famous Restaurants: Paradise, Bawarchi, and Shah Ghouse in Hyderabad.
- Lucknowi Biryani: Also known as Awadhi biryani, this type of biryani originates from Lucknow, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is known for its use of tender, slow-cooked meat (often goat or lamb) and a fragrant saffron-infused rice layer.
Famous Restaurants: Tunday Kababi, Idris Biryani, and Dastarkhwan in Lucknow.
- Kolkata Biryani: Kolkata biryani has its unique twist. It features fragrant Basmati rice, and marinated meat, and is flavoured with potato and a subtle hint of sweetness. This variation is known for its use of “keora” or screw pine essence.
Famous Restaurants: Arsalan, Shiraz Golden Restaurant, and Aminia in Kolkata.
- Dum Biryani: Dum biryani, which means ‘slow-cooked’ biryani, is a cooking method rather than a specific regional variant. It involves cooking the meat and rice together in a sealed pot, allowing the flavours to meld beautifully. Dum biryani is popular across India and comes in various regional variations.
Famous Restaurants: Dum Pukht in Delhi, Biryani Factory in Bangalore, and Biryani Blues in Noida.
- Malabar Biryani: Hailing from the Malabar region in the southern Indian state of Kerala, this biryani is known for its use of small-grain, fragrant Kaima rice, along with a generous dose of spices and coconut milk. It is often prepared with chicken or beef.
Famous Restaurants: Rahmath Hotel in Kozhikode, Paragon Restaurant in Calicut, and Hotel Sagar in Malappuram.
- Thalassery Biryani (Beef): Originating from Kerala’s Thalassery region, this biryani features fragrant Kaima rice, slow-cooked beef, and a blend of spices and herbs, including mace and fennel seeds.
Famous Restaurants: Paris Restaurant, Malabar Biriyani House in Thalassery
- Sindhi Biryani (Mutton): A speciality of the Sindhi community, this biryani includes marinated mutton, basmati rice, and a unique mix of spices, along with fried onions and potatoes.
Famous Restaurants: Sindhi Curry House in Mumbai, Sindh Kitchen in Delhi
- Ambur Biryani (Chicken): Hailing from Tamil Nadu’s Ambur region, this biryani is known for its flavorful and aromatic preparation, featuring seeraga samba rice, tender chicken, and a secret spice blend.
Famous Restaurants: Star Biryani, Rahmaniya Hotel in Ambur
- Kacchi Biryani (Mutton): A speciality of the Sindh region and parts of Pakistan, Kacchi Biryani uses marinated mutton and partially cooked rice, which are then layered and slow-cooked to perfection.
Famous Restaurants: Café Aylanto in Lahore, Dilpasand Biryani in Karachi
- Chettinad Biryani (Chicken): From the spicy Chettinad cuisine of Tamil Nadu, this biryani is renowned for its fiery flavours, using a blend of traditional spices and coconut milk.
Famous Restaurants: Anjappar Chettinad, Karaikudi Chettinad Restaurant in Chennai
Biryani, with its diverse regional variations, is a testament to the rich culinary heritage of South Asia. Whether you prefer the spicy and aromatic Hyderabadi biryani or the subtle and fragrant Lucknowi biryani, there is a biryani for every palate. Prices for biryani dishes vary depending on the type of meat and the restaurant’s location, but it remains an affordable and delightful culinary experience.
Exploring the world of biryani is not only a gastronomic adventure but also a journey through the history and culture of the Indian subcontinent. So, next time you find yourself craving this aromatic delight, consider trying one of these regional variations at a recommended restaurant for a truly unforgettable dining experience.