Story of Biryani

Biryani is a very popular Indian dish, and it is also appreciated in the West. It is a rice dish with various other ingredients that, once added, give birth to an extremely varied range of biryani. In this article, we’ll try to quench your curiosity about the story about this absolutely delicious food and to find out more about the ways in which biryani can be prepared.

The word Biryani derives from the Persian language, a language spoken in different parts of India during the medieval period between the 16th and 19th centuries, ruled by the Mughal empire. It is said that the origin of the word biryani is from “birinij, the Persian word meaning rice. Another theory says it derives from “biryan” or “beriyan”, which means frying. Both these theories prove the origin of this dish as being from Persia. It could also have come from Persia via Afghanistan to North India. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal as the final resting place for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, decided that biryani is a kind of food that is perfect to feed his armies.

How to prepare the biryani?

How many types of biryani are there? Is biryani preparation specific to a particular area of India? These are the questions normally asked by many people.

Well, Biryani is a main course dish based on long grain rice and meat, cooked together in a large vessel, on a low flame dish. The meat is marinated with many spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, saffron, etc.), aromatic plants and fresh herbs such as coriander leaves and mint leaves. Traditional biryani uses Basmati rice and lamb meat. Biryani recipes vary and depend on the region or the restaurant that prepares this dish.

You can serve biryani cooked with lamb, fish chicken, eggs or vegetables. The traditional biryani cooking technique is called “Dum pukht” ( “Dum” means “blowing air” and “pukht” “Cook”). For the Dum pukht cooking technique, a thick bottom vessel is used, preferably of cast iron or copper, in which the biryani can be cooked with little heat without the risk of food being burnt. To cook the Dum, when the pot is cooked, the pot must be sealed. In India, sealing of the pot is done with a lid and a wet towel. Or, a soft dough is used to stick the edges of the pot and lid, so that steam built up inside the pot can not escape from the pot.

There are two types of basic biryani: Pakki (with each stage prepared on fire) and Kacchi (with raw ingredients used in cooking). In pakki biryani, cooked meat and rice and spices are put in layers in the Dum. For raw or kacchi biryani, raw ingredients are put in layers in the Dum and placed on fire over a low flame. There are many variations of biryani recipe, depending on the region and the culture of the area.

Here is a simple recipe of Hyderabadi chicken biryani, my which is very delicious and aromatic.


For chicken:

1 kg whole chicken cut into about 20 pieces
1 tablespoon ginger paste
2 tablespoons garlic paste
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon paprika or Kashmiri chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala or biryani masala
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup minced coriander leaves
1/3 cup minced mint leaves
5 green chillies
300 gm yoghurt
lime juice 1 tablespoon
1 pinch of cinnamon
some peppercorns, cumin seeds, 2 laurel leaves
100 ml of peanut oil, butter or any other oil salt to taste

Mix everything with chicken, leave it in the refrigerator for at least two hours or even overnight for a better taste.

For rice:

500 gm of high quality basmati rice
2 tablespoons oil,

For flavouring the rice, you need:

2 cinnamon sticks
5 green cardamom beans
3-4 cloves
cumin seeds
2-3 bay leaves
salt to taste.

Rice Preparation:

wash the rice and let it soak in water for at least 30 minutes. Boil 2-3 liters of water together with all whole spices, salt and two tablespoons of oil. Once the water starts to boil, add the rice and let it boil for about 4-5 minutes until it is cooked to about 50%. Strain the rice and transfer it to a large, but not very deep pan.

For garnishing:

3-4 sliced red onions, fried till they become crisp and caramelized
Coriander and mint leaves
saffron soaked in half a cup of milk
a handful of roughly chopped cashew nuts abd almonds, lightly roasted in you in an oil pan
a handful of raisins.

Final assembly:

Take a saucepan with a thick bottom, Apply little butter or oil to the bottom and transfer the marinated chicken together with the sauce in which it was marinated. Place a layer of caramelized onion, some chopped coriander and mint leave followed by half the amount of rice. Then repeat the layers of onions and greens and add the remaining half of the rice. Pour the saffron soaked in warm milk over the rice, and a layer of caramelized onion, cashews, almonds, raisins and green herbs. Cover the pan with a hermetically sealed lid. You can also use soft dough to stick the edges of the saucepan and lid. Alternatively, you can moisten a towel that you put over the lid or cover it all hermetically with an aluminium foil placed over the lid.

Cook the chicken on high flame for 5-8 minutes, then another 30 minutes on small flame. Turn off the flame and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes. Your aromatic Hyderabadi chicken biryani is then ready to serve. We recommend serving biryani with raita – by adding slices of two cucumbers scraped in 300 grams of fat yogurt, salt to taste, pepper and a spoonful of lime juice.

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