Flavour of the Season: Biryani

Biryani is an aromatic oven-baked, pulao-style Indian dish with meat or vegetables, we take a look into this dish that makes mouths water – the world over.


Connoisseurs still remember the culinary spirit of the era bygone, when cooking was not just another chore but an art mastered by a select few. And, leading the way were the kitchens of royalty, where master chefs experimented to create those very special dishes meant for monarchs. Nizams of Hyderabad and Nawabs of Lucknow led the pack, when it came to appreciating the subtle nuances of tastes and flavours and that’s why chefs in their kitchens were known the world over for their signature dishes.

Cooking Garlic

The History of Biryani

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/or Arabia. In Farsi, Birian means ‘Fried before Cooking’. The Persian word beryā(n) (بریان) means “fried” or “roasted”. In the olden days, rice was fried (without washing) in Ghee (Clarified butter). It did two things:

  • It gave the rice a nutty flavor
  • It burned the outside starch layer gelatinizing it. After the rice is stir-fried, it was boiled in water with spices till half cooked.

Truth or Myth?

An interesting story traces the origins of the dish to MumtazMahal(1593-1631), Shah Jahan’s queen who inspired the TajMahal. It is said that she once visited army barracks and found the army personnel under-nourished. She asked the chef to prepare a special dish which provided balanced nutrition, and thus the Biryani was created.


Types of Biryani

  • Awadh Biryani: During Mogul empire, Lucknow was known as Awadh, giving rise to Awadhi Biryani.
  • Calcutta Biryani :In 1856, British deposed NawabWajid Ali Shah in Calcutta, giving rise to Calcutta Biryani.
  • Hyderabadi & Arcot Biryani: Aurangzeb installed Nizam-ul-mulk as the AsfaJahi ruler of Hyderabad, as well as a ‘Nawab of Arcot’ to oversee AaruKaadu region (Six Forrests) south of Hyderabad. These moves gave rise to Hyderabadi Biryani and Arcot Biryani.
  • Tahiri Biryani: The Biryani spread to Mysore by Tipu Sultan of Carnatic. They hired vegetarian Hindus as bookkeepers leading to the development of Tahiri Biryani.
  • Other Biryani styles worthy of mention include: Turkish Pilaf, Iranian Biryani, Quaboli, Malaysian Biryani, Indonesian Biryani, Sindhi Biryani Idiyappam Biryani from Sri Lanka, and and Kashmiri Yakhni Biryani.

Chopping and Slicing

What rice makes a
good Biryani?

If seen historically, in North India, Long Grain rice was used, while short grain Jeera Samba rice was used in South India. Puffed rice was used in Bangladesh.

However, top chefs vouch that long grain rice has several distinct advantages that make authentic Biryani a treat beyond comparison. Long grain rice has low Amyl pectin starch, which makes it less sticky. Parboiling makes the starch gelatinized making it further less susceptible to being sticky. The rightkind of long grain Basmati Rice, like Kohinoor Gold Extra Long Basmati Rice, gives the ’chewy’ and ’nutty’ texture to the grain, adding to the flavour and aroma of this delectable dish.


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