Biryani is essentially a spiced and aromatic rice preparation involving the use of meat, fish, eggs or vegetables and at times certain combinations of these. Biryani is one of the most sought after dishes not only in the Indian sub-continent but across the globe.
It traces its origins back to Iran and it was the Persian merchants and travellers who introduced this dish to India many years ago. In fact Biryani derives its name from the Persian language wherein the word ‘beryan’ refers to fried or roasted. Since its inception this is one dish that has undergone innumerable changes and yet has managed to preserve its essence as a one of the tastiest blends of superior quality rice, vegetables, fish, eggs, meat or poultry along with some of the most flavourful spices and herbs.
How does Biryani differ from Pulao?
Depending on the chief ingredient used, one may prepare a chicken/meat/egg/vegetable or fish biryani. Likewise, one must be able to differentiate between a pulao and biryani. The basic difference between the two is that while in the former all the ingredients are cooked together, the biryani is more time consuming as it involves the preparation of spiced and flavoured rice and a rich non-vegetarian or vegetarian gravy separately and then assembling them in alternate layers before one final ‘dum’ or steam pressure cooking in a large sealed utensil over an indirect heat source.
Served at special occasions like festivals and weddings, the rice used for making biryani is usually basmati, which is mixed with a variety of spices and condiments and garnished with flavored leaves like coriander, bay leaves, mint leaves etc. The vegetables, meat or eggs used in the preparation are precooked or fried in a pan and later once more cooked along with the biryani rice for the perfect blend. While infinite biryani recipes have made their presence felt today because of regional variations and local influences, the more famous ones are - Hyderabadi biryani, Lucknow biryani and Malabari biryani among others.