I saw our G.M. Mr. Atul Chana of ITC fame, coming towards me and telling that ‘Bap Ji’ (His Highness) has asked for biryani also to be served on the royal table for the dinner tonight. It was an important order to me and that too at the last moment. Well, I have always believed not to get panic in sudden situations like this, instead calm my own self and concentrate in order to try to deliver the best i can within that short span of time.
Eventually what I did, I just boiled the rice and then layered it over the safeed maans and cooked. Though, I was skeptical but not afraid at all. Finally the biryani was served to him and he had it. Later he called me up and praised me immensely in front of all his Royal friends. He said to me that this was one of the best Biryani's he ever had till now in a really long period of time. That compliment over my confidence and effort made my day and got embarked in my mind forever.
Basically, the Safed maans has all the ingredients which are necessary for a good biryani. Rose water, Cardamom, mace, Fennel, white pepper, ghee, green chilles, ginger, poppy seed, curd and milk- basically it’s a white korma - The trick worked that day.
Rajasthan is not known for biryani except Dargah of Ajmer Sharif, they serve biryani deg, called “Sarai ki biryani”. Marwar have Kabuli pulao which is a vegetarian version with vegetables, raisins, cashewnuts etc and they also add fried breads croutons that look like meat.
India has a long history of rice cultivation. It developed on the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. From there it got spread to the rest of the world. In India, rice is a symbol of prosperity and from the past old times it was associated with the rich people, because rice was too expensive to afford. It was cultivated and stored for the special occasions. Ghee and milk was also a part of the cooking medium and hunting was very much popular too during Aryan culture.
Rice cooked in water called ‘Bhath’ and is accompanied by ghee, curd, and dal or meat preparation. Pulao is a renowned rice preparation and an Indian delicacy being popular from the Vedic time itself. Mahabharata also referred that when meat and rice cooked together then that is a similar dish.
to Greece and then from Greece to Turkey. Then the pulao which travelled from India to Turkey that eventually returned back to India in the form of 'Biryani' by the Mughals. “Ain-e- Akbari", the Mughal document also states that pulao was familiar with the Indian people.
If we consider this statement then, my belief becomes even stronger on it, that the Indian Pulao which was served to the Mughal Emperor's table would have only become biryani further. Since the Muslim cooks were known for their innovation and creation of new delicacies. It might have happened that on the demand of their emperor they might have invented biryani, which was cooked in layers and was much easier to cook rice rather than pulao.
Pulao is actually a type of rice preparation, generally cooked in home when there is any special occasion, picnic, festivals or wedding. The preparation of pulao starts with frying meat/vegetables with spices and herbs in ghee (clarified butter), after that water is added which is approximately double the quantity of rice (1’inch above from the level of rice) in the prepared meat/vegetables. Later rice is added and simmered together to absorb the flavours of the spices. This process is called - absorption method.
Soaking is very important in the making of pulao, it helps in minimising starch upto a limit and another characteristic is that the grain of the prepared pulao comes out evenly and separately. Very low heat applied from both the sides which gives pulao a definition of what it is!!!
First, wash and soak rice for 1 hour. Then fry half of the onion in ghee and pound it nicely. Make a paste of ginger and garlic and strain the juice and keep it aside. Marinate the mentioned ingredients all together- chillies, cumin, cinnamon, curd, salt and juice of ginger and garlic. In a pot, fry bay leaf, clove and cardamom and then add the rest of the onion and fry it upto golden. Now, add the marinated mutton and stir nicely till golden brown colour comes in. Simmer it till all the ghee comes on the top and then you can say that meat is cooked nicely. Now, drain the water from the rice and put in the prepared korma. Check the seasoning and when the rice absorbs the juice of the meat nicely, cover it and then cook it on dum.
Kabuli pulao/Moti pulao/Kofta pulao/Kashmiri pulao/Yakni pulao/Boot pulao/Muzaffer/Zard/Muthanjan/Shahjahani/Coorgi yarchi pulao etc
“Biryani ka matlab”-
Biryani comes from a Persian word ‘’ Birinj aur Biriyan’’, Birinj is rice and biriyan means fried- literally means fried rice. Apart from this there is no other evidence about biryani nomination.
Biryani is a combination of rice and meat/poultry/fish/vegetables. It was brought to India by the Mughals and was spread by them to all over the Indian regions, where they ruled. The traditional Mughlai biryani was not documented even in Ain-e Akbari, it has description only about the types of meal which used to be served, and it was meat with rice i.e. pulao/ biryani.
Biryani is basically a winter dish. Cooking style of biryani is different in every community in India. Necks, Barrah, parchas and ndare are the various cuts of mutton with least fibrous meat which are best suited for preparing Biryani. The good practice of eating habits says that the food rich in blood are supposed to be consumed in winters. Likewise, biryani has the attributes of a man/the warrior and is considered as sexually potent.
Delhi who was an evidence of Imperial kitchen of Mughals had developed many cooking styles. Mughals were known for having a high sense of taste and aroma of the food. From here they had spread it to all over the Indian Sub-regions. In Delhi, here biryani is cooked in a single layer or double layer with ghee and is being sold in kgs at small eating joints and thelas all over. It is quite a popular as it justifies its worth with the quantity they sell. So that, “koi yah na kahe ki kam di biryani khane ko”
The yield of the prepared biryani is approx. 1 kg meat + 1 kg rice = 4 kg of biryani.
TYPES OF BIRYANI-
Biryani can be categorised into two forms - ‘Kutchi' (raw) and 'Pukki' (cooked).
Lucknowi biryani is known as ‘Pukki’ biryani and the Hyderabadi is famous for ‘Kutchi’ biryani. According to the 'pukki' style, meat and rice are cooked separately then layered in a ‘Deg’, brass vessel for the finishing whereas in ‘Kutchi’ biryani style (with raw gravy); meat, marinade and rice are layered raw and cooked in 'Dum'.
Lucknow was ruled by the Nawab Asaf - ud – Daulah, who were of Persian origin. He was a connoisseur and a great lover of cuisine, who is said to have maintained six kitchens and spent vast sums of money inventing fabulous delicacies. Lucknowi, ‘’Rakabdar ‘’developed the ‘’Dum style’’ of cooking in which food is cooked for a long period of time.
Lucknowi biryani is highly aromatic and full of meaty flavours. It is scented with saffron and vetiver, some used to cook it with dry fruits and nuts also. They don’t put tenderizer at all. There are many innovative biryanis by Nawabi Rakabdar in Lucknow.
Lucknow serves pukki form of biryani. Pukki means cooked. This biryani mainly has three steps:-
The meat is fried in ghee and cooked with ginger, garlic, crushed fried onion and little milk with warm aromatic spices till the meat becomes tender. The prepared meat yakhni is drain out and jugalbandi of atter with saffron, cardamom and mace are added after checking the seasoning. The nazakat of Lucknowi biryani is that no whole spices should come to your mouth while you are having it.
The rice is slightly fried in Ghee, and boiled in the meat broth or water.
Cooked meat and cooked rice are layered twice or more in a deg. Saffron or food grade lemon yellow and orange colours are sprinkled on the layered rice. Then the deg is sealed and cooked over low heat. The result is perfectly cooked meat, rice, and a homogenous flavour of aromatic meat yakni, aromatic spices and sweet flavors.
The city Hyderabad is known as a land of Biryani in India. The famous Kacchi gosht ki biryani is prepared with marinated lamb and rice cooked together. The use of tenderizer i.e. papaya in marination (Kachi yakni) makes the difference here. The highly aromatic biryani has green and red chillies, peppercorn, star anise, cardamom, kebabchini, mint etc.
In Hyderabad collection of biryani is rich and vast and in their both preparation whether it is vegetarian or non- vegetarian and has many delicacies.
The Hyderabadi Muslims got their food habits from the Mughals. Hyderabad serves both the original Hindu Andra style and Mughlai Hyderabadi biryani which highly influences by Mughal imperial kitchen. One main preparation difference is the use of lemon juice instead of tamarind juice by Muslims. Andhra produced largest chillies which actually reflect in their biryani which is why it is much spicier then north. Here, mirch ka salan and bhurani are eaten with biryani, which helps to aid digestion.
Mutton is marinated with lemon juice, green papaya paste, curd, onion, garlic herbs and spices with desi ghee. The marination is kept for minimum 1 hr to 4 hr in the fridge.
Rice is soaked, drained and cooked in mutton stock or water with potli masala. The first layer of cooked rice is almost 30% done spared all over the marinated mutton and the second layering is of 50% cooked rice is added and spread nicely. Pre-soaked saffron milk is sprinkled all over the rice and more ghee is added on the top.
Seal the deg with dough and put the lid on and live charcoal is placed on the top as well and let it cook on slow flame till done.
In my early commi days, I used to marinate the meat very well for the kache gosht ki biryani, the only problem I faced was while cooking rice. The timing to take out the rice from the boiling pot and layering it over the meat was very important and one has to leave some water along with the boiled rice while pouring it over the marinated meat. If you didn't maintain the timing it spoils the whole process of making biryani. The biggest challenge for me was to maintain the consistency. Either the grain of biryani were too mashy or the rice/ meat remain raw.
Hyderabad is also known for its Pulao, Qubooli Mughal influence rice and lentil preparation. It is also cooked with meat as a non veg option.
Black cardamom /cinnamon/bay leaf/coriander seeds/kebabchini/dried rose petals/kapoor kachai/pan ki jad/star anise/stone flower/sandal wood/khus ki jad/gehunwala
On my grand trunk culinary journey trip, I got chance to explore the biryani of Calcutta. It was quite a knowledgeable opportunity. Calcutta is known for their love towards biryani. One can easily assume that Calcutta biryani is a true copy of Lucknowi biryani. Every aspect of biryani is equally same, only difference is the uses of potatoes in it. If you ask me then, I must say, Calcutta biryani has less ghee and kushboo in comparison to Lucknowi biryani. The best part is that it was light in taste.
Difference between Lucknowi and Hyderabadi biryani
Pulao vs Biryani
Tahari is neither a pulao nor a biryani, both Lucknow and Hyderabad claim it to be an expert in making of it. Pilibhit ki tahari is one of the most famous one. Use of mustard oil and turmeric provides Lucknowi tahari the different taste and texture. Potatoes, cauliflower are cooked with yellow masala rice is the most likely tahari in north India. It appears like a pulao, while the ingredients used are as similar to biryani. Hyderabadi take on tahari is similar to their dish and is much closer to biryani. One more unique aspect which differentiates tahari from pulao and biryani is that the tahari is comparatively spicier.
Now, it’s time to talk about why I am writing or trying to understand biryani. The reason lies in my previous article on curry; someone has requested me to write about biryani as well. Honestly speaking cooking rice is a very difficult subject to handle in home as well as in hotel business. One has to be perfect while dealing with biryani and pulao even simple rice needs experience to cook it perfectly. Kehtey hain, “Aag, Hawa, Pani Aur Nazar ka khumar hai cooking”, ya phir kahe to, “haath ki safai hai”.
Here, I am not trying to claim any statement it is just for the viewers reading pleasure.