Biryani is the most secular dish in India. Do I sound like a civics teacher? If there exists an inter-galactic authority for food & they put biriyani up for auction , I’m sure that’s one time you can hope to witness the entire world uniting and agreeing that it is indeed everyone’s. I would safely say it’s the only secular dish in India because “Everyone loves Biryani”, there is absolutely no discrimination. It is a medium over which people from all walks of life irrespective of their status and religious beliefs bond over.
You find Biryani in every menu card throughout India. However, its taste, texture and aroma are distinctive, that’s primarily because every city alters this dish to appeal to their taste buds by adding a pinch of masala significant to their city. All thanks to its versatile nature we now have over a hundred variants of this dish. It has been inculcated into the cultures of the locals more than any other political party in India!
How was it Born? (Allow me to sound like a History teacher now):
We owe this dish to Mumtaz Mahal, yes the ladylove that inspired Taj Mahal. When she discovered that the families of the Mughal soldiers were malnourished she ordered her chefs to create a “whole meal”. A rice dish that consisted of meat providing them a perfect balance of proteins and fats. Added to that, the war struck areas needed a one-pot meal, something that was hassle free to cook and eat as well without compromising on the nutritional value. Tadaaaa, Biryani was the result of this experiment that came into existence approximately four hundred years ago. No doubt the Mughals conquered the entire Northern India and Deccan plateau, his soldiers were feeding on Gods own food.
Apart from this popular tale, there have been many other stories circulated related to the origin of Biryani. One such instance is the reference of the same rice dish called “Oon Soru”, in Tamil. In the year 2 A.D. this dish composed of rice, ghee, meat and spices, which was served to the military warriors, now that too could indicate the evolution of this dish. But I am guessing it’s Persian, since the word “Biryani” originates from Bery, which in Persian means fried before cooking we ought to give credit to the Mughals for its birth. In conclusion, it is undoubtedly a dish by the Persian Royals made in India to feed the masses. (You see how many cultures have come together for the love of food!).
Rest of India VS Hyderabad Biryani
Biryani is cooked using umpteen techniques, the most common method (followed by the majority of Indians) is meat marinated in yoghurt and spices (Mostly cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf and cloves). This mix is allowed to set for over four hours and then its cooked partially and layered with flavored Basmati rice. This entire set up is put in a Handi and sealed with kneaded flour only to ensure no flavor escapes. It is cooked on slow heat and this process is called dum. It is the most crucial step in the making of the Biryani. There is no Biryani without Dum.
In Hyderabad, the making of the Biryani varies and it is called kachhe gosh ki Biryani. The marinated meat is placed at the bottom of the handi that is topped with flavored Basmati rice and fried onions. This is sealed for dum for more than an hour depending on its quantity. That one-hour my friend is the hour of magic. The juices from the meat ooze up blending in with the spices that rise to flavor the rice. So precisely speaking the flavors are concentrated at the bottom and as we move up that layer we reach the milder side. Now that’s what makes a Hyderabadi Biryani special and unique.
The dish has appealed to the entire length and widths of our country but we Hyderabadis make, eat and fight for Biryani like it’s no one else’s business!
Yes, yes. Topping for reasons other than the fact that the word Hyderabad is in our logo. It is widely considered the best biriyani all over the world.
Malabar Biriyani (It is Biriyani not Biryani)