By Shajahan Mohamed Abdul
The Hyderabadi Biriyani is one of India’s favourite delicacies. The style of cooking makes it unique. Unlike other biriyanis, meat and rice are cooked together with exotic spices. It has a thin layer of rice overlapping spicy chicken or mutton. It is topped with fried onions and is best served with raita.
Origin of Biriyani
Mughals: This royal Biriyani originated in the kitchen of the Nizam of Hyderabad. It is a blend of Mughlai and Iranian cuisine. ‘Biriya’ in Persian means ‘fried before cooking’. ‘Biriynj’ is also the Persian word for rice. Irrespective of the different ‘origin theories’ it is generally accepted that Biriyani originated in Persia and Mughals introduced it in India.
The Mumtaz Connection: Once, Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Emperor Shahjahan, visited the army barracks. She was shocked to see that the soldiers looked weak and undernourished. She ordered a dish be prepared, combining lots of meat, rice and spices – to provide essential nutrients to soldiers. It is (yet another version of) how Biriyani was born.
The Mongols & Biriyani: Another legend has it, that the Mongol Conqueror – Taimur, had declared Biriyani as a staple food for soldiers. This earthen pot of rice, meat mixed with spices, was stored in the ground and dug up when it was time to feed his army.
2 Types of Hyderabadi Biriyani
Pakki: It comes in two versions, Pakki Biriyani and Kachchi Biriyani. Pakki Biriyani needs a mutton curry base for cooking the rice.
Kachchi: The Kachchi Biriyani has marinated meat, cooked under pressure. It is first marinated, rubbed with chilli, garlic, salt and kept in the refrigerator. The second stage of marination involves mint paste and pineapple juice, which results in its tenderness.
Royal Ingredients of ‘Hyderabadi Biriyani’
The main ingredients are basmati rice, chicken or meat, curds, spices, lemon, onion, saffron, coriander leaves. Fried onions, coriander leaves and even rosewater and saffron are used in garnishing.
This is all about the legend of Hyderabadi Biriyani.
[Shajahan Mohamed Abdul or Chef Abdul, hails from Mysore, Karnataka. His career in hospitality spans almost two decades, having been associated with brands like Hilton, Sheraton & Accor. He holds many awards to his name including – “The Best Indian Chef”, “The Best Chef Led Brand” and “Innovative Chef of the Year”. He blogs at ChefAbdul.com]