Rice Recipe

Top 10 Biryanis of India

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Biryani, a brilliantly balanced amalgamation of spices and flavour, sparks craving in everyone. An experience of Indian cuisine is never complete without tasting the legendary, famous biryanis in India. Brought to India during the Mughal era, biryani is almost like an adventure to the taste buds. Though of Persian origin, this remarkable dish became all the more versatile, acquiring flavours and spices from each part of India, all claiming their version to be the best.
So how about a biryani trail from the north to the south of India, taking you through the varied styles of cooking and the different spices that make up yummy avatars of this dish!

Top 10 Biryanis of India:

1. The Awadhi Biryani

Though we don’t know for sure which biryani made its first appearance in India, the popular opinion is that it was the Awadhi biryani because of its origin from Awadh, the present day Lucknow and home to the Mughals who ruled India for over 300 years. Coming from a city that is popular among foodies for its lip-smacking dishes, this biriyani is the perfect blend of fragrant spices.

With the tender rice, flavoured with cinnamon, star anise and saffron, it is layered with half-cooked meat in a deep bottomed vessel or handi’ sealed with dough and cooked until the mouth-watering flavours seep into the rice. The perfection of this rice is because of this special form of cooking called ‘dum’ style.

The Awadhi Biryani

2. The Calcutta Biryani

This is a slightly similar version of the Awadhi biryani, brought to Calcutta by a royal Awadhi family. The Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, in 1856, was deposed from Awadh and he moved to Calcutta. Along with the household items and his favourite cooks, he brought to Calcutta another important element – the biryani! The recipe infused into the poorer class, who introduced the usage of potatoes instead of the costlier meat. This gave a new turn to the ordinary, and thus, the Calcutta Biryani was born.

The Calcutta Biryani

3. The Sindhi Biryani

Named after its place of origin, the Gujarat-Sindhu province (now a part of Pakistan). The Sindhi biryani is another popular avatar of biryanis in India. Loaded with finely chopped chillis, coriander leaves, mint leaves and spices. This biryani is a treat to anyone venturing to the north-western parts of India. The rich texture and taste are enhanced by the copious use of yoghurt, potatoes, tomatoes and perfect garnish of dry fruits, nuts and onions.

A close cousin of the Sindhi biryani is the Memoni biryani, a speciality of the Memons of Gujarat, which uses mutton. unlike the Sindhi biryani which focuses on potatoes and tomatoes. The alluring colour of the dish is purely from the spices and the rich meaty gravy used to layer it.

 The Sindhi Biryani

4. The Bombay Biryani

No food trail is ever complete without a stop in Mumbai. An extension of its Gujarati and Mangalorean cousins, this biryani from the city of dreams includes the added flavour of kewra and dried plums, giving it a slightly sweet twist.

The Bombay Biryani

5. The Kampuri Biryani

Lesser known in other parts, Kampuri biryani is a special variety innate to the North-eastern states, specifically in Assam. This dish draws out distinctive flavours from the cooking of meat with peas, carrots, potatoes and yellow bell pepper, which is then mildly spiced with cardamom and nutmeg. The infusion of fresh vegetables into the normal mix of meat and rice makes it a must-try among biryanis in India.

The Kampuri Biryani

6. The Beary and Bhatkali Biryanis

The states of South India has different styles of biryani within each of their borders. As for the southern Karnataka district of Dakshin Kannada, their Beary biryani. A luscious combination of masalas, fragrant rice and meat cooked to perfection, finds a spot on the list.

The coastal regions have their Bhatkali biryani, an integral part of the Navayath cuisine, laced with sauteed onions and green chillis. The meaty masalas and the spicy fragrant rice are layered just before serving. The clean rice on top can be deceiving as you dig in further and a burst of fiery flavours envelope your senses. The lack of oil or ghee does not deter this biryani from competing for taste!

The Beary and Bhatkali Biryanis

7. The Arcot Biryani

This South Indian special, more commonly known as Ambur biryani, is famous for being light on the stomach as opposed to the other fat-laden masala biryanis. Its origin goes back to the 1890s when the Nawabs of Arcot was reigning in Tamil Nadu. Since then, this version has flourished. Prepared in dry chilli paste, whole spices and tempered in yoghurt. It takes the sting of spice from the dish leaving a pleasantly tangy aftertaste. It is often paired with brinjal masala. Tamil Nadu also has a Dindigul biryani, slightly similar to its Ambur cousin due to the tangy flavour of curd and lemons used in the recipe.

The Arcot Biryani

8. The Malabar Biryani

No list of food in India is complete without a mention of the delicacies that originate in the Malabar coast. The popular Thalassery biryani is of Arab origin, unlike the Mughal variations from the North. The Mappilas or Muslims of Kerala give a unique flavour to the biryani by using small, flavoured Jeerakasala rice. As opposed to the Basmati rice used traditionally. Malabar brings out the perfect fusion of spicy, tangy, sweet and salty tastes along with the meat and flavoured rice finally topped with fried onion, sauteed cashews along with raisins.

biryanis in india

9. The Tehri Biryani

This would have to be the Tehri biryani that originated in North India. During World War II, the price of meat increased substantially and potato became the preferred substitute for biryanis. This variety of biryani was also developed for the Hindu accounts officers of Muslim Nawab rulers. Tehari/Tehri biryani is a delightful treat of spices and colour, one where the succulent meat is replaced with potatoes and in some cases, other veggies of choice.

biryanis in india

10. The Kalyani Biryani

Not as popular as Hyderabadi biryani but just as tempting, the Kalyani biryani is popular around Hyderabad. History has it that the Kalyani Nawabs, the fort keepers of Basavakalyan, maintained a sprawling mansion in Hyderabad. They kept a tradition of feeding the finest of biriyanis to anyone coming to seek entry into the then territory of Nizams. This tradition was cut short when the Kalyani Nawabs were reduced to mere kingship symbols and their treasuries looted, during the British colonial rule. To sustain their existence and also to not break the tradition of treating visitors like royalty, the royal cook made a cost-effective version of the biriyani, using lesser expensive ingredients. Further, in their honour, it was also sold in the streets of Charminar by the name, Kalyani biryani.

biryanis in india

Has reading about all those biryanis in India made you hungry? Well, next time you dig into a plateful of delicious, meaty biryani, you’ll know just where it all began.

Hope so you liked this post of Top 10 Biryanis of India, Let me have your comments & views in the comment section below:

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I am Manasvi Ravi Phulawade The Author, Cook, Baker and Photographer behind Art of Palate.

My primary goal is to treat you the way I like to be treated, which means, if you have any questions, feel free to hit the comments section?. I will be happy to share what I have learned so far.


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