Where is your beloved Biryani from? Tracing the history
Cuisines leave their own imprints on the history of any country. Where they come from partially indicates who ruled the empire but most importantly the cluster of different cultures and cuisines. India itself witnessed several invaders, like Mughals, Turks, and British. While the Afghans bought samosa, Mughals were the ones to introduce Biryani. The smoky meat and vegetables sizzling over the white-hot rice is no simple cuisine and a delight for thousands of Indians.
It is a signature meal for every gathering especially among the Muslim society of India. There are hundreds of types of Biryanis served across the country, and no treat is completed without this scrumptious dish. But do you know where Biryani was first introduced in India?
Originated in the Middle East and developed in the Mughal royal kitchen, the history of biryani is intriguing yet satisfying.
The word Biryani comes from the Persian word ‘Birian’ meaning ‘fried before cooking’ and Birinj which means ‘rice’. Historian argues about the origin of biryani- some believe that it was first originated in Persia while the rest gives credit to the Mughal cooks. Biryani was originated somewhere between the 13th and 19th centuries. But one synopsis of the evolution of Biryani comes from the Mughal queen, Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Shah Jahan.
Mumtaz Mahal once visited the army of the empire and witnessed weak and undernourished soldiers. She realized that the soldiers were not being provided with a balanced diet and thus ordered the Royal cook to bring a dish made of meat and rice. The cook prepared a dish whipped with spices cooked over an earthen pot, it was both nutritious and delicious and so Biryani was introduced in the legacy of Indian cuisine.
Mughals are highly credited for cooking the art of several recipes including kebabs, pilaf, and biryani. As their meal majorly included the non-vegetarian diet, all the experiments were in fact done on meat. Apart from the Mughal empire, back in 2 A.D, a rice dish known as Oon Soru was mentioned in the Tamil culture. It was prepared using rice, meat, herbs, and spices to serve the soldiers of the army.
One story also suggests that biryani was introduced in India by Turk-Mongol conqueror, Taimur in 1398. The legend believes that Islamic Persians inspired the dish and popularised it among the royal courts of the era. It was also a rice dish cooked with meat and was very similar to that cooked in the Mughal era. Whatever history says, Biryani will continue to rule the hearts of Indians for eternity.
Biryani across India
Mughlai Biryani: If we go by history, the most authentic biryani of India is Mughlai Biryani. As the name suggests this is the same kind of Biryani that was cooked in the Mughal era. Prepared by finely diced meat, smoked in hot pepper, and spread over the bed of Kewra rice, it’s a true delight to your taste buds. The aroma itself is enough to make anyone crave the delicacy.
Lucknow Biryani: Also known as ‘Pukki’ biryani, the meat and rice are cooked separately. The Lucknow Biryani is made by layering the cooked meat over the rice in a copper vessel. As the biryani was popular among the Nawabs of Awadh it is also known as Avadhi Biryani.
Moti Biryani: The moti biryani is a brainchild of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the fifth King of Oudh. The biryani is prepared by using edible pearls made out of eggs using edible silver and gold foils to dress them as literal pearls. The chicken is grilled and cooked with rice in an aluminum vessel. However, new varieties of include replace edible pearls with meatballs known as ‘kofte’. The moti biryani is very rare to find these days and can only be ordered in traditional restaurants that promise legacy.
Memoni Biryani: The memoni biryani can be only found in the Gujarat and Sindh regions of India. It is prepared with yogurt, fried onions, potatoes, and spices. It is a kind of veg biryani or a pulao inspired by the techniques of biryani. The rice dish is cooked using no artificial coloring or flavors.
Hyderabadi Biryani: The Hyderabadi biryani was first introduced in the royal court of Emperor Aurangzeb who appointed Niza-Ul-Mulk as the new ruler of Hyderabad. The royal chefs were asked to prepare the biggest feast and they cooked almost 50 varieties of Chicken, meat, and even Hare. Hyderabadi biryani is cooked with saffron, a rather rare technique of preparing a rice dish. The aroma of saffron along with sizzling meat inspires the art of true cooking.
The Bottom Line
Which was once a dish of royalty, today is the tradition of every state. People of every background enjoy the delicacy unbiased. It is even more prolific that in a predominately vegetarian country, people love the art of biryani making. It is one of the major reasons that India has a wide variety of Vegetable biryanis. Serve warm as a main course in diverse culture, biryani is truly and incredibly Indian.