Biryani is one of the biggest Persian hit dish which has taken enormous routes to reach the hearts and stomachs of Indians. Biryani is now a big part of Indian cuisine because of its yummy taste and its unique and rich cultural heritage.
The name Biryani comes from the Persian word ’Berya’ which means ’fried’ or ’Roasted’ and In Farsi, Birian means ’Fried before Cooking’.
Many people from ages have been fascinated by the taste and brilliance of Biryani’s preparation and various theories on Biryani’s inception have been derived till date.
What really is Biryani?
Biryani is a one-dish rice-based meal that consists of layering cooked rice and meat in a casserole, before baking it in the oven. Popular in India and the Middle East, Biryani is usually made with chicken, seafood or mutton, it can also be made as a vegetarian casserole.
Biryani is normally made with basmati rice and flavored with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf, coriander, mint, ginger, garlic and onions. Traditionally, orange saffron milk was sprinkled on the top of the dish before baking, so that the rice grains had a variated white and yellow orange color and a subtle saffron flavor.
Biryani is often served with a yoghurt-based condiment such as raita or a tomato, onion and cilantro relish. It is good for crowds and a favorite at Indian wedding receptions, Indian family dinners and Muslim dinner tables.
It takes a long time to make Chicken Biryani hence it is usually made on special occasions but rest assured it is worth the effort you would put in to make it.
History of Biryani
How ’Biryani ’ came to India
Biryani originated in Persia and might have taken couple of different routes to arrive in India.
As you know the word Biryani is derived from the Farsi word ’Birian’. Based on the name, and cooking style (Dum), one can conclude that the dish originated in Persia and Arabia. It could have come from Persia via Afghanistan to North India or it could have been brought by the Arab traders via Arabian Sea to Calicut. The history of Biryani is better known during the 19th century.
The Lucknow (Awadhi) Biryani is the footprint the Moghuls left on the eastern part of India. 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 everyday, so the meat was replaced by potatoes.
It is believed that Aurangzeb invaded the South and installed the Nizam-ul-mulk who later became the Nizam of Hyderabad.
That explains the movement of the Biryani down south. From the Nizam’s kitchen originated the Hyderabadi Biryani and the complimentary sides Mirchi ka Salan, Dhanshak and Baghare Baingan.
These moves gave rise to Hyderabadi Biryani and Arcot Biryani. The Biryani spread to Mysore by Tipu Sultan. 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 (Veg Palau ).
Besides the historical facts, there are many fuzzy legends.
One legend has it that Timor, the lame brought it down from Kazakhstan via Afghanistan to Northern India. According to another legend, Mumtaz Mahal (the beauty who sleeps in Taj Mahal) concocted this dish as a ’complete meal’ to feed the army. Yet, some say the dish really originated in West Asia. The Nomads would burry an earthen pot full of meat, rice and spices in a pit, eventually the pot was dug up and there was the Biryani.
Almost every community today has its own version of the Biryani. In the northwest is the Memoni Biryani (people who inhabited the area between Sindh Gujarat and Pakistan) is an extremely spicy Biryani, while the Sindhi Mutton Biryani is distinctly different. Then there are Turkish Pilaf, Iranian Biryani, Quaboli Biryani, Malaysian Biryani, Indonesian Biryani, Idiyappam Biryani from Sri Lanka, Kashmiri Yakhni Biryani and countless other form of Biryanis.
Types of Chicken Biryani
- The Awadhi Biryani was brought down by the Muslims of Mughal Empire. Originated in the North, Awadhi Chicken Biryani also knows as Virani Chicken Biryani or Pukka Chicken Biryani which has flavors of south where the rice and meat are cooked separately and then layered.
- The Kolkata Chicken Biryani or previously knows as Calcutta Chicken Biryani was an evolution from Lucknowi style Chicken Biryani when the last nawab of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah exiled in 1856 to Kolkata suburbs of Metiabruz. This was the time when meat was replaced with potatpes in Chicken Biryani as the poorer homes in the city that could not afford meat, at least on a regular basis. Now the use of potatoes has become a distinct feature of the Calcutta Chicken Biryani as an additional ingredient along with the meat.
- In Myanmar, Chicken Biryani known by Burmese is by the name Danbauk. A very popular royal dish for the riches. Popular ingredients used are cashew nuts, yoghurt, raisins and peas, chicken, cloves, cinnamon, saffron and bayleaf. In Burmese Chicken Biryani, the chicken is cooked with the rice. Biryani is also eaten with a salad of sliced onions and cucumber. It is often served at religious ceremonies and luncheons. Biryani in Myanmar utilizes special rice grown domestically rather than basmati.
- Chicken Hyderabadi Biryani is a delight in all parts of India and forms an integral part of Indian cuisine. The Nizam’s kitchen boasted of 49 types of Biryani, which included Biryani made from fish, quail, shrimp, deer and hare. The Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani is called as the ’Kaccha’ Chicken Biryani as both the marinated meat and the rice are cooked together.
- Iranian Biryani: In Iran, Chicken Biryani is made with baked Chicken that is stewed then minced separately and then grilled in special small round shallow pans in the oven or over the fire. The biryanis are generally served, with powdered cinnamon, in local bread, usually ’Nan-e Taftoon’ but also sometimes ’Nan-e Sangak’.
The dish is generally known with a general name of ’Dam Pukht’. The compound in Persian means ’steam-cooked’. This name is still in common use in Iran besides Biryani;. In Southeast Asian countries such as Burma/ Myanmar this older, general Persian term is in common use as ’Danbauk’
- Kacchi Biryani This Chicken delight is a special preparation of dish cooked with both Chicken as well as mutton which later became more popular. The dish is cooked with the chicken and sauce being at the bottom of the cooking pot with a thick layer of rice on top, the rice and Chicken are mixed before serving. Potatoes are also added but not very often and desired. A boiled egg and mixed salad often accompanies the dish.
- Memoni Biryani was called because of its invention by the Memon group and is very similar to Sindhi Biryani. As most Biryani. Memoni Biryani is made with chicken, yoghurt, fried onions, and potatoes, and less tomatoes compared to Sindhi Biryani. Memoni Biryani also uses less food coloring compared to other form of Biryani, allowing the rich colors of the various meats, rice, and vegetables to blend without too much of the orange coloring. A special treat by Memoni’s.
- Sindhi Biryani:The Sindhi version of Chicken Biryani is very popular in Pakistani cuisine. In Pakistan Biryani enjoys substantial popularity, particularly in the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad, where the chicken version is popular. The Pakistani chicken Biryani is very similar to Bombay Biryani, but combines elements of Sindhi Biryani and includes potatoes. The dish offers the usual local vegetables as well as a sour yoghurt to cool off the stomach from the spices.
- Sri Lankan Biryani is usually served with chicken or mutton. In many cases, Sri Lankan Chicken Biryani is much spicier than our traditional Chicken Biryani. Side dishes accompanied with the Sri Lankan Chicken Biryani are very popular and includes Malay Pickle, cashew curry and ground mint sambol.
In mere recent a popular form of Biryani uses String Hoppers as a substitute for rice. It is often served with scrambled eggs or vegetables.
- Tahari Biryani also called Sabzi Biryani is the vegetarian version of the Chicken Biryani and is very popular in Pakistani and Indian homes. In Bangladesh, Tahari refers to Biryani prepared by adding the meat to the rice, where as the opposite of traditional Biryani where the rice is added to the meat.
- Thai Chicken Biryani: In Thailand, Thai Muslims have popularized a local variety of the dish, known as Heena, which is popular throughout the country Along with Thai Massaman curry and satay which is one of the most famous Muslim Thai dishes.
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