Hello World!

Biryani – A Delicious South Asian Dish

Although identified with the Muslim communities, Biryani is a delicious dish that people of all communities enjoy. Many have the wrong assumption that Biryani came to South Asia from Central and West Asia, but it is very much a South Asian dish, perhaps drawing from such Central and West Asian dishes as the Pulav (pilaf) and the Persian CheloKebab. Because of the assumptions about its outside origins, even many Muslims in South Asia don’t like to add the typical South Asian spices and even turmeric powder to it, but there are many who make the Biryani with turmeric and spices and being South Asian, it has every claim to be cooked with these ingredients.

Biryani is associated with the lore of the glorious Mughal period of Indian history. It is said that the Mughal Empress Noorjahan was not only an efficient administrator, a clever strategist and a skilled warrior but was also very creative and enjoyed entertaining people. She used to innovate cuisines for the feasts she liked to give and Biryani is her innovation. Indeed, I have asked my friends from Central and West Asia and they have told me they have the Pulav but not Biryani. Iran has CheloKebab, a dish that involves cooking meat with rice with some fruit-seeds indigenous to Iran, but they don’t have Biryani. On the other hand, South Asia has different variations of Biryani and it’s a popular dish for occasions such as Id and marriage ceremonies. But I can have it on a daily basis!

I have tasted a very plain variation, in which meat is cooked wih rice in water with very little oil, with only the strained juices of the spices added to the mixture. Then of course there are the famous versions from Lucknow and Hyderabad – the former cooks meat with rice mixed with spices and turmeric powder and saffron, while the latter cooks the meat/chicken gravy first and then cooks rice in this gravy, using a lot of chilly, making it very hot. I’ve also eaten an eastern Indian version that cooked rice with meat, spices, turmeric powder, adding milk to the mixture. Milk enhances the taste of the rice and meat. But the best version that I like – and everyone to whom I served it also liked it – involves cooking meat and rice with turmeric powder, spices and yoghurt. Of course, saffron is the ubiquitous ingredient for Biryani, but nowadays saffron is expensive and real saffron is difficult to get everywhere. Hence, many people add artificial red flavour to the Biryani, which is in fact harmful for health. Hence, if you don’t get real saffron, the best way is to cook it without saffron, but don’t add artificial flavour to it.

9 Responses to “Hello World!”
  1. rushda says:

    next step: list out the various types of biryanis, their recipes and the joints where you can get them.
    good work archna, keep it up.

  2. Archana says:

    Hi Rushda,
    Thanks – you are supposed to give that information in your response!

  3. pranav says:

    gud job archana..keep it..thanks for learning the method of making dahi macch..yummmmmy….tks
    luv take care

  4. pranav says:

    hi archana
    nice blog….provide us some teeeekha dishes…and some home made sweet dishes on the occasion of diwali…the festival of lights…take care..

  5. Archana says:

    Thanks Bhaiya,
    Will do, wait and see!

  6. Chitra Nayak says:

    Dindigul Biriyani is very famous, I am at Dindigul now. here they use only soft tender mutton and Dindigulities claim it can beat any biriyani . Any way I cannot say anything on this as I am a pure vegetarian .

  7. Archana says:

    Hi Chitra,
    A vegetarian appreciating mutton Biryani is interesting! It shows your liberal outlook. 🙂

    I hope to taste the Dindigul Biryani someday. Aurangabad Biryani has lots of spices and chilly.

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