Thursday, May 23, 2013

Basics of Biryani


(You can click on the Name of the Biryanis above the pictures for the recipe)

Biryani is my most favourite dish in the world. If I could eat only one food for the rest of my life it would be this power packed dish, rich in proteins, carbs and fats - A Complete Meal.  I love to experiment and try to cook various types of biryanis from different parts o the world, my most favorite one being "Chettinadu Biryani"

The name is derived from the Persian word beryā(n) (بریان) which means "fried" or "roasted". Biryani was believed to have been invented in the kitchen of Mughal Emperors. It is very popular in the Indian subcontinent and is a key element of the South Asian cuisineHyderabadMalabarDelhi/Agra,DhakaKashmirKolkata, Tamil Nadu, Lucknow and Lahore, are the main centres of biryani cuisine.

A lot of people get confused between biryani and pulao/pilaf as some of the biryanis are as mild as pulao/pilaf. The difference between biryani and pulao/pilaf is that while pulao/pilaf may be made by cooking the items together, biryani denotes a dish where the rice (plain or fried) is cooked separately from the thick sauce (a greatly reduced curry of meat or vegetables). The curry and the rice are then brought together and layered, resulting in a dish of the contrasting flavours of flavoured rice (which is cooked separate with spices) and intensely flavoured sauce and meat or vegetables. This separation is partly of necessity: the proportion of meat/vegetables to the rice is high enough to make biryani a one-dish meal, and the cooking time of each of the main ingredients is significantly different from each other. In a properly made biryani, the final dish is dry or minimally moist, with the individual rice grains separate.

The spices and condiments used in biryani may include, but are not limited to, gheenutmegmace, peppercloves, cardamomcinnamonbay leavescoriandermint 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,goatlambfish or shrimp. The dish may be served with dahi chutney or Raitakorma, salam, a sour dish of eggplant (brinjal), boiled egg and salad.

There are around 100 varieties of Biryanis. I have elaborated on eight most popular ones that I have tried and  tested in my kitchen with great success. Since vegetarian options are few for biryanis, I will start with vegetarian  ones first. 

Tahari biryani is cooked without meat in it. Rice and different kind of vegetables are cooked together. Potatoes and carrots are mostly used as vegetables in Tahari biryani . In Kashmir, Tahari is served on the roads and streets to the travelers.

Bombay biryani originated in Mumbai, India. The ingredients are vegetables, rice, salt, onions, ginger and garlic paste, yogurt, all spices powder, chili powder powder, white cumin powder, coriander, potatoes, green chillies. Sometimes the vendors use pav bhaji masala and ketchup to make this biryani/pulao and it is a very satisfying, hot and quick meal sold in every street corner in the fast paced Mumbai life.

Calcutta biryani has evolved from Lucknow biryani. When Wajid Ali Shah, the last nawab of Oudh, was exiled to Kolkata, he brought his personal chef with him. Potatoes were used in the biryani instead of meat during the recession, which later became a special feature of the Calcutta style biryani.

Sindhi biryani is a special meat and rice biryani dish originating from the Sindh province of Pakistan. Owing to its popularity, it forms one of the most consumed dishes of Pakistani cuisine and Sindhi cuisine.

Memoni biryani was developed by the Memon ethnic group and is very similar to Sindhi biryani. It has variations though, among families, as do most biryanis, though the Bantva Memons community most commonly makes biryani in this form. Memoni biryani is made with lamb, yogurt, fried onions, and potatoes, and fewer tomatoes compared to Sindhi biryani. Memoni biryani also uses less food colouring compared to other biryanis, allowing the rich colours of the various meats, rice, and vegetables to blend without too much of the orange colouring.

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.

Ambur Biriyani is one of the famous biriyani recipes of South India which emerged during the Nawab of Arcot’s regime. Prepared mainly in Basmati Variety of rice, both chicken and Mutton are used for this. A full plate of Biriyani with Brinjal curry (Khattay Baigan or Yennai Kathrika) and Onion Raitha (Vengayam Pachidi) makes our feast a delightful one. Such is its very delicious taste, which makes many thousands of passers by in this Golden Quadrilateral track of Chennai-Bengaluru highway to taste it. Apart from this, Pakaathee (Biriyani cooks, as known in this region), are the people who indulge in large scale biriyani preparation and are hired to many places of South India for Biriyani preparation.

The Dindigul biryani originated from the Muslim populations in Tamil Nadu but the recipe was later modified by the Telugu speaking populations who started serving them in small restaurants nearby. Dindigul is a major commodity market for agricultural produce and a confluence of farmers from neighbouring districts to sell their produce to wholesale mandi’s. In recent years few Dindigul Biriyani chains have established their chains in most towns in Tamil Nadu as well as other major cities in India. Well known among them is the Dindigul Thalapakatti Biryani who own trademark rights to the specific name and have won legal battles to uphold their trademark rights.

One of the most popular biryani in Tamilnadu, this is truly a melage of various spices infused with coconut milk a jewel in the crown of the ever popular Chettinadu cuisine.

Well folks, I hope you get to try these wonderful dishes and I shall keep updating more varieties as and when I make them.

I am hugely indebted to Solai's true chettinadu kitchen and Spicy Tasty blog from where I learnt these recipes. I also took the help of Wikipedia for this blurb. Also, sorry about the different font sizes... I'm late for college.. Partnership Taxation class from 6 to 8:30 pm :( will be dreaming about biryani in class tonight :P

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