Biryani: Everything You Need to Know
The biryani is a staple of Indian and Pakistani cuisine and a very welcome addition to tables, menus and bellies here in the UK, thanks to the large diaspora communities up and down the country. A mixed rice dish baked with meats, vegetables and wide-ranging spices, the biryani is a dish steeped in history.
In its modern incarnation, the dish would be served at the high tables of the Mughal Empire, a Muslim dynasty that found its roots in Persia and Afghanistan rather than India itself. The name itself derives from the Persian “birian”, which means “to fry before cooking”, and the dish is very similar in nature to the Iranian dish of polow, though it has since been adapted to include spices and flavours more suited to Indian and Pakistani tastes.
How It’s Made
The biryani is made by layering either cooked rice and meats (“pakka” biryani) or raw ingredients for “katcha” or “kutchi” biryani. A layer of yoghurt is often poured onto the bottom of the dish, with the first layer of rice placed on top of it and layered upwards from there, with potatoes added in some variants. A tight seal is essential for steaming the ingredients correctly within their case, and a wheat dough is often used to do this.
As rich in variations and cultural intricacies as the cultures of India and Pakistan themselves, the biryani finds itself subject to fierce debate as to the correct ingredients and cooking methods. A Sindhi biryani, for example, relies on tangier, more fragrant spices and ingredients, such as saffron, and is generally a lighter affair than, say, the Hyderabadi equivalent, which is based around goat or chicken and mint. But the list of variations goes on, and all dishes are delicious in their own ways.
The Spice Lounge Kitchen Biryani
At Spice Lounge Kitchen, we know our stuff when it comes to biryanis, and our dishes are indebted both to their Persian roots – such as our rosewater-infused Lucknow Lamb Biryani – and the subsequent Indian adoption, such as in our traditional Hyderabadi. Contact us now to book a table and try this historic dish, faithfully recreated by our master chefs.