Biryanis in India and their stories


No one can ever get tired of a biryani. The very moment of breaking the seal of a biryani pot, when the fragrances rush out with the hot steam, can be the most blissful moment in the life of any true blue foodie. The biryani satisfies both the tongue and the eyes, with its flavour and colour. Just one mouthful of the biryani, laced not just with kismis and cashew nuts, but with enough sprinkling of muhabath (love), can take the biryani lover to the seventh heaven of foodie bliss. But, the biryani is not just one avatar, it has multiple avatars.

Even in Kerala, the biryani has enough local varieties, with Malabari biryani leading the chart. After that, Malayalis seem to be most familiar with the Hyderabadi biryani, believed to have been originated in the royal kitchens of the Nizams of Hyderabad. The Hyderabadi biryani has both the Pakki and Kacchi versions. The Pakki version has the rice and meat cooked separately, to be mixed together in layers later. In the Kucchi version, both the meat and rice are cooked together from the very beginning.

The Awadhi or Lucknowi biryani is notable for its cooking method itself. The meat is at first cooked with masala half way through. Later it is added to the rice in layers and cooked for hours together. This method helps the masala to get absorbed well. The Kolkota biryani, which has a moderate helping of spices with a tinge of sweetness, was inspired by the Awadhi biryani in turn.

The Bhatkali biryani has a pungent taste arising from the sharp bite of the dried red chilly and the sweetness of sautéed onions. This type of biryani originates in the coastal areas of Karnataka. The Sindhi biryani that is rich with thinly sliced chillies, fried spices, mint, coriander leaves, cashew nuts and dried fruits can intoxicate your taste buds to no end. The Sindhi biryani was born in the region of Sindh, in present day Pakistan. The Memoni biryani, originating among the Memons of Gujarat has only some slight difference from the Sindhi Biryani. The Memon biryani has more intensive presence of spices.

The Bidar biryani that cuts down the expensive ingredients of the Hyderabadi biryani is also known as the poor man's biryani. It traces its roots to Bidar in Karnataka and mostly uses beef instead of mutton. The Dindigul Thalappakkatti biryani makes use of strong spices and large chunks of meat. There is a strong presence of pepper as well, along with lemon and curd.

The Tehri biryani was discovery in the royal kitchen of the Mughal era, mainly for the vegetarian Hindu account officers of the Mughal Courts. Since its major ingredients were potato and carrots, this biryani gained popularity during the Second World War period, when there was an acute shortage of meat.

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