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Biryani, biriani, or beriani is a set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word which means "fried" or "roasted".

Biryani was originated in Iran (Persia) and it was brought to the Indian Subcontinent by Iranian travelers and merchants. Local variants of this dish are not only popular in South Asia but also in Arabia and within various South Asian communities in Western countries.

Based on the name, and cooking style (Dum), one can conclude that the dish originated in Persia and/or Arabia. It could have come from Persia via Afghanistan to North India. It could have also been brought by the Arab traders via Arabian Sea to Calicut. We know the history little better during 1800 to 1900. During Mogul empire, Lucknow was known as Awadh, giving rise to Awadhi Biryani. In 1856, British deposed Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in Calcutta, giving rise to Calcutta Biryani. Aurangzeb installed Nizam-ul-mulk as the Asfa Jahi ruler of Hyderabad, as well as a 'Nawab of Arcot' to oversee Aaru Kaadu region (Six Forrests) south of Hyderabad. These moves gave rise to Hyderabadi Biryani and Arcot Biryani. The Biryani spread to Mysore by Tipu Sultan of Carnatic. Needless to say it was a royal dish for Nawabs and Nizams. They hired vegetarian Hindus as bookkeepers leading to the development of Tahiri Biryani.

The main ingredient for biryani

The spices and condiments used in biryani may include but are not limited to: ghee, cumin, 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 meat-beef, chicken, goat, lamb, fish or shrimp. The dish may be served with dahi chutney or Raita, korma, curry, a sour dish of eggplant (brinjal) or a boiled egg.

How biryani is different from pulao?

The difference between biryani and pulao is that while pulao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice (plain or fried) is cooked separately from the thick sauce (curry of meat or vegetables). The curry and the rice are then brought together and layered, resulting in a dish of the contrasting flavors of unflavored rice (which has a hint of the aromas and juices of the curry) and intensely flavored sauce and meat or vegetables.

Different types of biryani

  • Hyderabadi Biryani : Hyderabadi Biryani is a Hyderabadi dish based on basmati rice and goat meat. Popular variations use chicken instead of goat. The blending of Mughlai and Telangana cuisines in the kitchens of the Nizam, ruler of the historic Hyderabad State, resulted in the creation of Hyderabadi Biryani. The most famous biryani, it initially came when Aurangzeb invaded the South and installed the Nizam-ul-mulk who later as the Asfa Jahi ruler became the Nizam of Hyderabad. So, as the influence of the Muslim rule, Hyderabadi Biryani and Arcot Biryani became popular. The Biryani spread to Mysore by Tipu Sultan of Carnatic. 'Hyderabadi Biryani' is made in different styles -- 'Kacchi' Biryani, where the meat is marinated in curd and then steamed with rice, and the 'Pakki' Biryani, where the meat is cooked with all the accompanying spices and then the rice added to the resultant gravy in a sealed handi.
  • Kachchi Biryani : Kacchi Biryani is a special preparation of the dish which is cooked with mutton (and rarely with Chicken). The dish is cooked with the meat and sauce being at the bottom of the cooking pot with a thick layer of rice on top, the rice and meat are mixed before serving. Potatoes are sometimes also added to the dish which is cooked with the meat. A boiled egg and mixed salad often accompanies the dish.
  • Lucknowi (Awadhi) Biryani : Lucknow and biryani have an almost symbiotic relationship. The Lucknow (Awadhi) biryani is the footprint that the Muslims of the Mughal Empire left on the northern part of India. It originated in the village 'Bare Next' and although it originated in the North, Virani Biryani has also picked up flavors of the South. The Awadhi Biryani is also known as "Pukka" Biryani as the rice and meat are cooked separately and then layered.
  • Kolkata- Biryani : Kolkata biryani is far spicier than its cousins, and distinguishes itself by its use of potatoes. The whole, skinned potatoes in biryani take on all the nuances of flavour in the stock. Even this has a history behind it. This biryani originated from the Avadh royal family, which migrated to Kolkata with a coterie of cooks. The dish permeated from the royal family downwards to common households. From Lucknow the biryani moved to Calcutta when, in 1856, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was deposed by the British. His team of cooks moved with him and so did the biryani . In Kolkata the biryani entered poorer homes, which could not afford meat every day, so the meat was replaced by potatoes which came to be known as the 'Calcutta Biryani'.
  • Malabar Biryani : Malabar biriyani is believed to be brought across the Indian Ocean by Arab Seafarers. The 'Mappilas'(that’s what the muslims in Kerala were called) also prepare a type of biriyani which is believed to have come from Samarkhand with the Mughals and migrated through the Deccan plateau to the south. The Kerala Muslims have developed many variations of the biriyani - rice cooked with mutton, coconut and yogurt, mutton and egg biriyani and fish biriyani with spices, tomato, cashews and raisins to name a few. Biryani is also cooked differently. The meat and the rice (not the long basmati, but the shorter variety) are cooked separately. They are then layered in a narrow-neck pot and steamed, ensuring that the flavors of the meat completely encompass the rice. It is often served with a simple raw mango, coconut and green chili pepper chutney.
  • Tehari : Tehri is the name given to the vegetarian version of biryani. The vegetable biryani was originally made for the Mahajan Hindus, who were the cashiers and financiers of the Nawabs. The vegetarian version or 'pulao' has some textured vegetable protein-based balls to present the impression of a meat-based dish for vegetarians. The difference between biryani and pulao is that while biryani may be made by cooking the items together, pulao, is used to denote a dish where the rice is cooked separately from the other ingredients.

Recipe For Hyderabadi Biryani

Ingredients
  • 1 kg chicken preferably in 16 pieces and a couple of drumsticks
  • 1 kg Basmati rice
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 tsp ginger and garlic paste
  • 3 tsp chilli powder
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • 100 g cashew nuts
  • 4 or 5 bay leaves
  • 4 or 5 cloves
  • 2 cm long cinnamon sticks
  • 6 to 10 green chillies ground to paste
  • 3 or 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 or 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups mint leaves
  • 1 cup coriander leaves
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 0.5 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 lemon
  • 1.5 tsp salt (according to taste)
  • 1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
  • 0.5 cup yoghurt
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 tsp dried coconut powder
  • few strands of saffron
  • 2 cups finely sliced onions
Method
  • Make deep incisions on the chicken flesh. Mix turmeric, chilli powder, salt, garlic paste, yoghurt, and half-lemon’s juice. Apply this paste onto the meat flesh and marinate it for atleast an hour.
  • Heat about 100ml of oil. Fry cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, 1 spoon coriander powder and then add onions(2). Wait a couple of minutes to add mint leaves. When onions turn slight brown, add marinated chicken and cook for about 20-30 min. Add garam masala and coconut powder and turn off flame when it's about three fourth cooked. Gravy should not be much and chicken pieces should look roasted.
  • While the chicken is still cooking, prepare the Biryani rice. Cook 3 cups of basmati rice in a cooker so that its only half cooked. Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt to it. Take a few semi cooked grains of rice and color them with diluted saffron for garnishing.
  • You will need a utensil of about 12 inch base. Place about half of semi cooked rice in it. Next, layer half of chicken on it again topped by a layer of rice. One more layer of remaining chicken, finally with layer of rest of the rice on top ends the rice-chicken layering stage.
  • Heat oil and deep fry half the sliced onions till they are golden brown. Similarly fry cashew. Garnish the top layer with these two along with 100 ml ghee, coconut milk, saffron rice grains and coriander. Close the vessel and make it airtight (but no pressure should build up). Put on high flame for 5 min before reducing it to low flame. The flame should not be at the vessel’s centre, but on one side of it. Wait for 2-3 minutes and turn the vessel to heat other next part on its circumference. Keep rotating the vessel every 2-3 min for about 20 min. Every time the vessel is turned one should carefully disturb the contents by a shake/jerk so as to avoid settling of ghee at the bottom.
  • Put off the flame and wait for about 10 min before opening. Before serving, mix the medley from the bottom. Serve with boiled egg halves.

Recipe For Kachchi Biryani

Ingredients
  • 1 kg Chicken preferably leg pieces
  • 600 grams Basmati rice
  • 4 medium sized onions
  • 10 grams Ginger paste
  • 12 grams Garlic paste
  • 8 grams Red chilli powder
  • 1 bunch Coriander leaves
  • 1 bunch Mint leaves
  • 4 nos. Green chillies
  • 5 nos. Cardamoms (green)
  • 6 nos. Cloves
  • 2 inches Cinnamon
  • 5 grams Peppercorns
  • 3 grams Mace
  • 200 grams Curds
  • 3 tblsp Lemon juice
  • 100 ml Milk
  • 100 ml Oil
  • 30 ml Ghee
  • As per taste Salt
Method
  • Wash and soak the rice for 30-40 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a pan and fry the sliced onions till it turns golden brown. Keep it aside.
  • Finely chop the coriander and mint leaves. Grind the green chillies to a fine paste.
  • Soak the saffron in warm milk and grind mace, green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorn to a fine powder.
  • In a bowl, mix together well beaten curd, red chilli powder, salt, ginger garlic paste, green chilli paste, mint, coriander leaves, lemon juice, powdered spices and fried onions (crush the onions before mixing).
  • Rub the chicken legs with this paste and marinate it for few hours.
  • Boil at least 5 ltrs of water with a little salt.
  • When the water starts boiling add the soaked rice.
  • Transfer the marinated chicken into a deep bottomed pan which has a tight lid.
  • Once the rice starts to boil, drain the water and layer the rice over the marinated chicken in the pan.
  • Sprinkle the saffron-milk mixture over the rice and chicken and add the ghee.
  • Cover the pan with the lid and cook at high temperatures till it starts to steam.
  • Then cook on medium flame till the chicken is tender and all the moisture is absorbed.
  • Transfer the contents gently into a serving dish. Serve garnished with mint leaves and ginger.

Recipe For Lacknowi(Awadhi) Biryani

Ingredients
  • Savory Warm Broth: We will need 5 cups of savory warm broth. 4 cups for cooking Rice, 1/2 cup for cooking chicken, and 1/2 cup during layering
    1. Commercial Chicken stock: 5 Cups
  • Spice Potli
    • Cheese Cloth: 1
    • Cotton string: 6 to 18" long
    • Ginger chopped: 2" x 1"
    • Black Cardamom cracked open:6
    • Black Peppercorn: 10
    • Cinnamon stick 3"x1/4" Broken in half: 2
    • Whole Cloves: 8
    • Fennel seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
    • Bay leaf: 2
    • Nutmeg powder: 1/4 teaspoon
    • Salt: 1 teaspoon
  • Sweet Aroma Milk
    • Milk: 1/2 cup
    • Yellow Cardamom cracked: 2
    • Saffron strands: 6
    • Rose essence: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Rice Layer
    • Ghee: 3 Tablespoons
    • Basmati Rice: 2 Cups
    • Savory warm water: 4 cups
    • Saffron: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Marinate
    • Skinless boneless chicken breast cubed (24 equal pieces): 1 Pound
    • Chopped onion: 1/4 cup
    • Chopped ginger: 1/2"x1"
    • Garlic Cloves: 1 peeled
    • Coriander powder: 1/2 teaspoon
    • Ground cumin seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
    • Ground cayenne: 1/4 teaspoon
    • Cinnamon Ground: 1/4 teaspoon
    • Cloves Ground: 1/4 teaspoon
    • Nutmeg powder: 1/4 teaspoon
    • Salt: 1/4 teaspoon
    • Fresh lime juice: 1/4 teaspoon
    • Degi Mirch: 2 teaspoon
    • Ratan Jot: 1/4 teaspoon
    • If Ratan Jot is not available use Maval petals or Red food color about 8 drops.
    • Dahi Yogurt: 1/2 cup
  • Sauteing
    • Ghee: 1/4 cup
    • Onions finely chopped: 1/2 Cup
  • Garnish Layer
    • Ghee: 1/4 cup
    • Onions thinly sliced vertically: 1 Cup
    • Almonds sliced: 1/4 cup
    • Cashews halves: 1/4 cup
    • Fresh Ginger sliced into thin sticks: 1 Inch
    • Fresh Cilantro chopped: 1/4 cup
    • Fresh Peppermint: 1/4 cup
  • Lid Seal
    • Flour: 1/4 cup
    • Water: 1 Tablespoon
Method
  • Savory Avory Broth

    Fold the cheese cloth two time. Make a surface about 6"x6". Put spices in the center. Gather edges and tie a string.

    Put chicken stock and spice Potli in a pot. Bring it to a boil. Cover. Let it steep on low heat for 20 minutes.

  • Sweet Aroma Milk

    Add Cardamom pods to milk. Warm milk to 100 degree F. Crush saffron. Add saffron. Let it cool about 10 minutes. Add Kewra and Rose. Cover.

  • Rice

    Wash and rinse Rice. Presoak in water for a minimum of 30 minutes. Drain. Heat Ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Stir in rice. Cook till it just starts to turn opaque white. Crush and sprinkle saffron. Add 4 cups of savory warm aroma broth. Bring it to a boil. Simmer covered for about 14 minutes. Turn off heat. Wait 10 minutes, the moisture will be absorbed.

  • Marinate

    Put all ingredients except the chicken in a food processor. Process to make a smooth paste. Rub the chicken with the paste. Cover and let it marinate for at least 4 hours. Overnight in refrigerator is preferred.

  • Sauteing

    Heat Ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Add onions, saute till onions are clear. Pull out the marinated chicken Saute till chicken dry. Add 2 Tablespoons of marinate and 1/2 cup of savory warm broth. Cook covered about till almost all the moisture is gone.

  • Condiment Layer

    Now we need to prepare items for the garnish layer. Keep all items separate. Sautee onions in Ghee till they are brown and caramelized. Stir-fry Almonds and Cashews so they start to turn brown.

  • Layering

    Choose a deep pot to assemble Biryani. You must have a tight fitting lid for the pot.

    Remember the top and bottom layers are always Rice. Lay a layer of rice. Add a bit of savory broth and sweet milk in circular motion, add a layer of chicken, add a 'garnish layer'. Now start over with the layer of rice. If it is the top layer of the rice, add the savory warm broth and sweet milk as before and the garnish layer.

  • Baking

    We need to now follow Dum cooking (Cooking on low heat) in a Handi.

    Make the seal by kneading dough. Apply sticky dough to the lid all the way around. Seal the pot with the lid.

Recipe For Kolkata Biryani/Moghlai Biryani

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds of Lamb or Chicken or Goat
  • 2 pounds of Basmati Rice (long grain)(soaked in water for 30 minutes)
  • 1 pound of Potato
  • 2-3 Tomato
  • A cup of Yogurt
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 2 medium Onions
  • 2 tsp. of Garlic Paste
  • (If you don't plan to use the masala mix then following spices are needed)
  • 1 tsp. of Red Chilli Powder
  • 8 small Cardamoms
  • 4 big black Cardamoms
  • 10 Cloves
  • 10 pieces of solid Black Peppers
  • 1 tsp. of Cumin
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 5-10 dried plums
  • Oil 2/3 cup
  • 6 Green Chillies
  • 1 bunch of Cilantro Leaves
  • 1/2 bunch of Mint Leaves (Pudina)
  • 2 tsp of Saffron
  • 1 Lemon cut thin
Method
  • Slice the onion in horizontal way so that rings are formed and fry it in oil until its light brown.
  • Add garlic, ginger, salt, chili powder, cloves, cardamoms, black peppers, zeera, bay leaves, cinnamon to the above mix. Fry this until the water is dry.
  • Add the meat and fry it again for 10 minutes.
  • Add yogurt and dry plums to the mix and fry for 5 mins.
  • Add some water and cook on low heat until the meats cooked. Lamb without pressure cooker takes 2-3 hours while chicken takes 45 mins.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into large chunks. Boil (or microwave) them until they're half cooked. Add it to the mix and cook for more time till everything is cooked.
  • At the end there should be 2-3 cups of gravy in the mix atleast and it should be thick gravy.
  • Separately soak Rice in warm water for 20-30 mins.
  • Remove water from Rice and after its dry stir it in a pan of butter (5 tsps)
  • Now add saffron to the mix and put it in rice cooker. Make Sure that rice has to be 3/4th cooked and not totally cooked. I cook this in lamb broth that i make of 1-2 bones and meat just for more flavors.
  • Now take a big aluminum tray (biggest in the store) and then form this layer
    Layer 1: Rice
    Layer 2: gravy of lamb and lamb pieces
    Layer 3: mint, cilantro chopped with lemon slices.

Recipe For Tehri

Ingredients
  • 2 cups rice, basmati
  • 2 medium Onions
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetables
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 23 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 6 cardamomves
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 large cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 tablespoon coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoon mint washed, fine chopped
  • 34 green chilies
Method
  • Place rice in a colander and wash thoroughly under running cold tap. Soak in plenty of water for about 30 minutes. Thinly slice onions and keep aside.
  • Heat 14 cup oil in a large heavy based skillet, add one sliced onion and stir fry for 35 minutes, until soft but not brown.
  • Add rice; carefully stir to coat rice with oil. Add water, increase heat to high and bring water to boil, stir occasionally. Lower heat to medium low, cover and cook until rice are 34 cooked, stirring occasionally.
  • Cut vegetables into small and equal sized pieces and place them in cold water. Place yogurt in a small bowl, add all the spices, ginger and garlic mix well and keep aside for 30 minutes.
  • Heat 14 cup oil in medium skillet, over medium heat. Add bay leaves and star anise. Fry for few seconds, then add remaining sliced onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add vegetables and stir fry for 35 minutes. Add yogurt mixture and cook over high heat, until vegetables are tender but still crisp. Season with salt.
  • Preheat oven to 400. In a large aluminum baking pan, place 2 inch layer of rice at the bottom, then a layer of vegetable mixture and green chilies, repeating this until vegetables mixture and rice have been used up. Sprinkle with coriander leaves.
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Note: Water for cooking basmati is twice the measure of rice. Removing rice off heat after it is three quarters done should leave some fluid content that will get absorbed in the baking process. Baking allows the flavors to seep in evenly as well as make the rice fluffy.
  • Serve with a raita and fresh salad.

Recipe For Malabar Biryani

Ingredients
  • Basmati Rice - 1 kg
  • Chicken cut into big pieces - 1 kg
  • Thinly Sliced Onion- 500 gm
  • Sliced Tomato - 250 gm
  • Ghee - as needed
  • Broken cashew nuts - 1/4 cup
  • Raisins - 1/4 cup
  • Curd - 1 cup
  • Lime - 1 big
  • Chopped Coriander leaves - 1 bunch
  • Chopped Mint leaves - 1 small bunch
  • Curry leaves-2 sprigs
  • Biriyani Masala Powder - 3 tsp
  • Rose water - 2 tbsp(optional)
  • Saffron - 1 gm(optional)
  • Boiled eggs - 2
  • Salt - as reqd
  • For Marinating Chicken
    • Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
    • Chilly Powder - 1 tsp
    • Salt - as needed
  • For Grinding
    • Green Chillies - 100 gm
    • Garlic - 50 gm
    • Ginger - 50 gm
    • Poppy seeds soaked in water for 5- 10 mts - 2 tsp
    • Grind them together to a coarse paste. Keep them aside
Method
  • Mix together the ingredients for marinating chicken. Apply the mixture thoroughly on chicken pieces and allow it to stand for half an hour preferably in refrigerator.
  • Wash and drain the rice well. Heat little ghee in a pan, and roast the rice for 4-5 mts. Add necessary water(Usually the measurement is like, for 1 cup rice - 2 cups water) and salt into it, cook rice till soft and all the water is absorbed. Spread the rice in a flat serving dish, and sprinkle 3-4 drops of lime juice, allow it to cool.
  • Heat a little ghee in a pan and roast cashews and raisins till brown and keep it aside.Now add half of sliced onion and fry them until thay are well browned.Add more ghee /oil if needed.Drain them into a tissue paper and reserve .Now into the same oil,add marinated chicken pieces and shallow fry them for a while.
  • Now heat another vessel and heat ghee/oil(preferably ghee for more taste, or you can combine ghee and oil together) ,add rest of the onions and saute them till translucent. Mix in tomatoes, salt and the ground paste and saute them for 2-3 mts. Stir in curd and lemon juice and saute until oil seperates. Now add fried chicken pieces, mix well, cover and cook.
  • When it is half done, add Coriander leaves, Mint leaves, curry leaves and 2 tsp Biriyani masala powder. Mix and allow the chicken to cook well in medium heat, until all water is absorbed and chicken pieces are coated with gravy. Switch off the stove.
  • Take a big vessel, spread chicken pieces along with the gravy in the bottom. Now add one layer of cooked rice over chicken. Sprinkle a little biriyani masala powder, fried onions ,cashews, raisins and saffron(mixed in rosewater).Repeat the same for 2 more layers with chicken ,rice and fried cashew-raisins-onions etc. Seal the vessel with aluminium foil and bake it for 15 mts(150 degree celsius).Mix thoroughly and serve hot with whole boiled eggs (in the middle),Onion Raita ,Pickle and Pappad.