Think biryani and you automatically think Hyderabadi. While there is no doubt that Hyderbadi version is one of the most popular types of biryani in India, this rich delicacy that rests on an intricate mix of finest rice, succulent chunks of meat and aromatic spices have different variants in different parts of the country. Having sampled quite a few of these, one can vouch that each of these different types of biryani makes for a sinfully indulgent flavour ride. We bring you a rundown of five such types of biryani in India that every aficionado must try:
The Mughals are often credited with bringing the biryani to India. Naturally then, their preparation of this delicacy is often considered the most authentic by many biryani lovers. This innovative preparation straight from the royal kitchens of the Mughal empire is typically made with mutton chunks marinated in yoghurt infused with spices. The cooked meat is then incorporated into rice with rich spices. Some of the best Mughlai Biryani preparations today can be found in and around Delhi, once a power seat of the Mughals.
Be it the richness of culture or food, Lucknow, the city of Nawabs, is always on point. One such treasure hidden in its folds is the Awadhi Biryani, which is undoubtedly one of the richest types of biryani in India that stands out for its dum pukht style of cooking. The meat is infused with spices and cooked partially before being combined with rice flavoured with intensely aromatic spices like saffron, cinnamon and star anise. The rice and meat are assorted in layers in a handi and cooked in dum style for several hours to allow a deep penetrate of flavours through every morsel. The Awadhi Biryani is an intricate preparation characterised by mild but rich flavours.
Even though its place of origin has since been renamed Kolkata, the biryani retains its original name, and in effect, its original flavour that is the trademark of the contagious Calcutta vibe. The Calcutta Biryani traces its roots to the classic Awadhi Biryani but also carries the typical Bengali flavours. This type of biryani is characterised by understated flavours, with a slightly sparing use of spices and a tinge of sweetness. One clear distinction that sets this biryani apart from its ilk is the use of yellow rice that is layered with cooked chunks of yoghurt-based meat, potatoes and soft boiled eggs. The unique flavours of the Calcutta Biryani come from the use of spices like kewra and nutmeg, in addition to saffron.
The cuisine of the Malabar region, especially Kerala, is a riot of flavour with many surprisingly rich delicacies hidden in its kitchens. The Thalassery Biryani is one such regional preparation that will really knock you off your feet. It is a type of biryani that perfectly sums up the adaption of a classic preparation as per regional cultural and ethnic influences. One of the most significant departures from the classic biryani preparations is the use of the indigenous variety of Jeerakasala or Khyma rice instead of long-grain, aromatic basmati. It also relies heavily on the use of locally sourced Malabar spices. The flavours of the dish are enhanced several notches with the used of fried onions, raisin, sautéed cashew nuts and fennel seeds. Also, the rice and meat are cooked separately and mixed just before serving.
As the name suggests, the Sindhi Biryani traces its origin to the Sindh region that now forms part of Pakistan. It is a type of biryani that stands out for its diversity of ingredients, each of which adds a unique note of flavour to the dish. The Sindhi biryani makes a generous use of chopped green chillies, mint and coriander leaves, roasted spices, fried onions, sour yoghurt, dried fruit, nuts, potatoes and even plums. The combination of ingredients may sound a bit peculiar but it is fascinating how the flavours work well together to deliver a rich, succulent type of biryani that you just cannot have enough of.