Biryani, biriyani, briyani. Many names, and apparently many dishes too. That’s right. The humble meat and rice layered dish is prepared in different styles across nearly every region of India. So there are more than enough varieties to satisfy even the most die-hard foodie. With Eid around the corner, we thought of checking out some of the styles in which this iconic dish is made. Here are eight mouth-watering biryanis we can’t wait to try out!
Every biryani eatery worth its name is sure to serve the Hyderabadi variant. It originated in the Nizam’s kitchen and has since then become the most popular style of biryani across the country. Aromatic basmati rice is layered with marinated meat (mutton or chicken) and spices, fried onions and mint. This is then slow cooked ‘dum’ style in a vessel sealed with dough. The result? A wonderfully fragrant, saffron-flavoured spicy treat that we can’t get enough of!
This extremely spicy biryani is made by the Memoni trading community in the Gujarat-Sindh region. Mutton, curd, fried onions, tomatoes and potatoes form the stars of this dish. Unlike other biryanis, minimal food colouring is added to this dish. The rich colour is entirely from the spice mixture, which gives Memoni biryani its signature fiery character.
This lesser known biryani originated in Kampur in Assam. It’s simple, wholesome, delicious and colourful. Vegetables such as beans, peas, potatoes, carrots and bell peppers are cooked with meat. This mixture is mildly spiced with cardamom and nutmeg, mixed with rice and slow cooked. The flavours of fresh, local veggies combine very well with meat to give Kampuri biryani its distinctive taste.
One of the more unusual gems of Kashmiri food is the Mutanjan biryani. Digging into this biryani reveals both sweet and salty flavours and different ingredients with every bite. Mutton, cream, dry fruits, kewra (screwpine water), saffron and nuts makes this an extremely rich dish. Marinated meat is cooked until tender and coated in sugar syrup. Rice is cooked separately with aromatics. The meat and rice are then layered with saffron, dry fruits and nuts and slow cooked in dum.
Lucknowi or Awadhi biryani relies more on the flavours of the meat than spices for taste. Preparing this biryani is an elaborate three-step process. The first step is to cook the meat and prepare yakhni or the mutton stock. Rice is then cooked in this stock along with spices. The final step is to layer the rice and meat and then slow cook it. Kewra is sprinkled over the biryani just before it is served.
Bengalis swear by this subtly spiced biryani studded with meat, potatoes and boiled eggs. The Kolkata biryani is a variant of the Lucknowi style and has the distinct aroma and flavour of kewra. The use of a handful of spices makes this biryani much lighter on the stomach. Kolkata biryani originated as a ‘budget biryani’ – potatoes and boiled eggs helped reduce the quantity of meat required. This has now become its defining feature.
Tomatoes are the stars of this dish prepared by the Bohri community in Mumbai. What makes this biryani much loved is its moistness as compared to the dry versions that are more common. Marinated meat is smoked and then cooked dum style with half-boiled rice for around two hours. This traps all the flavours and aromas within and results in an extraordinarily moist and aromatic biryani.
Mangalore is a coastal town and has easy access to quality seafood such as prawns and fish. No wonder then that seafood finds its place of pride in the Mangalorean biryani. Saunf (fennel), coriander, green chillies, ghee and minimal spices complement generous amounts of seafood. Half cooked fish and rice are layered and slow cooked in a sealed vessel.