Biryani – Origin, History, and Types

Biryani has been one of the most satisfying food for centuries. But, do you know its journey from Persia to your plate?

Origin and History

The word Biryani is derived from the Persian word Birian, which means ‘fried before cooking’ and Birinj, the Persian word for rice. There are various theories related to the origin of this scrumptious dish. Many historians believe that biryani originated from Persia and was brought to India by the Mughals. Biryani was further developed in the Mughal royal kitchen.

Biryani is popular throughout the Indian subcontinent and also countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.

Types of Biryani

There are many types of biryani, whose names are often based on their region of origin. 

Hyderabadi biryani Hyderabadi biryani is one of India’s most famous biryanis; some say biryani is synonymous with Hyderabad.

Lucknow Biryani Biryani from Lucknow is known as ‘pukki’ Biryani or Awadhi Biryani influenced by the Nawabs of Awadh. In this, meat and rice are cooked separately then layered in a copper vessel for the finish.

Kolkata Biryani After being banished by the British, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah recreated Biryani in the city of Calcutta. Lighter on spices, Kolkata Biryani is made by using the yogurt-based marinade for the meat, which is cooked separately from the light yellow rice.

Ambur/Vaniyambadi biryani is a type of biryani cooked in the neighboring towns of Ambur and Vaniyambadi in the Tirupattur district the northeastern part of Tamilnadu. It was introduced by the Nawab of Arcot who once ruled the area. It is typically made with Basamati or Jeera Samba Rice.

Bhatkali/Navayayathi biryani This is an integral part of the Navayath cuisine and a specialty of Bhatkal, a coastal town in Karnataka. Its origins are traced to the Persian traders who left behind not only biryani but a variation of kababs and Indian breads.

Chettinaad biryani is famous in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is made of jeeraka samba rice, and smells of spices and ghee. It is best taken with nenju elumbu kuzhambu, a spicy and tangy goat meat gravy. 

Degh ki biryani is a typical biryani made from small cubes of beef or mutton. This biryani is famous in Parbhani (City in Maharashtra)and generally served at weddings.

Delhi Biryani The Delhi version of the biryani developed a unique local flavor as the Mughal kings shifted their political capital to the North Indian city of Delhi. Each part of Delhi has its own style of biryani, often based on its original purpose, thus giving rise to Nizamuddin biryani, Shahjahanabad biryani, etc.