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If we had to describe biryani in just one sentence, it would be rice cooked with meat and spices. However, there are many different types of biryani that are cooked in different ways using varied ingredients. Biryani is one dish that is available in the widest variety both in India and abroad. It is believed that the first of the different types of biryani was discovered from the Mughal Kitchens.
As we know, the Mughals came to Indian from Persia. Thus, it is fair to assume that biryani actually has Persian origins. But some biryani lovers also believe in an alternative story. Apparently, a South Indian king had ordered the preparation of rice cooked with cattle meat to celebrate the victory of his army. That too could have been the origin of the many different types of biryani we eat today.
Biryani is a dish that has been improvised upon in many ways. It has also absorbed the local flavours from every region. That is why, we have more than 50 different types of biryani that are popular in India and abroad. To give biryani lovers a head start, we have put together a list of 15 different types of biryani that you must try before you die. Some of these like Hyderabadi biryani and Lucknowi biryani are famous. But there are also many be many rare types of biryanis that you have not heard of or tried yet.
Mughlai biryani is an innovation from the kitchens of the Mughal empire. The Persian kings brought with them the unique recipe of cooking meat and rice in rich spices. In modern India, you will find the best Mughlai biryani in Delhi and neighbouring areas.
Lucknow is the city of Nawabs who preferred a slightly milder palate. The Lucknowi biryani has remarkably less amount of spices as compared to the Mughlai variety of biryani.
The Nizam of Hyderabad was an ex-patriot Mughal. So the Hyderbadi biryani is a mixture of the original Mughlai style biryani and the Southern, particularly Andhra cuisine. It is extremely spicy and rich.
Ambur is leather tanning city in Tamil Nadu. This tiny city is famous for making one of the best types of Biryani in Southern India. Ambur has more biryani shops per km than any metropolitan city in the world!
The Nawabs of Lucknow were exiled in Kolkata after the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. In days the of exile meat was scarce, so the Nawabs cooks added potatoes to the biryani. That is why, the present day Kolkata biryani contains potatoes along with meat.
Sindh is now a state in Pakistan and it has its own cuisine. Of the many different types of biryanis, this is the only one that uses yogurt in large amounts.
This biryani is called 'kacchi' because it is prepared with raw meat and rice. Ideally, the meat and rice are cooked separately and then combined. The Kacchi biryani is a speciality of Bangladesh.
The Bombay biryani is typically sweeter, has more grease and fried onions than other varieties. It has been adapted from the Irani biryani that is eaten with a meat gravy.
When the Tamils from India went and settled in Sri Lanka, they took the recipe of biryani with them. The first shop that sold biryani in Colombo was called Buharis. And the Sri Lankan biryani that is much spicier than any Indian version is thus called 'buryani'.
Tahiri is an Awadhi dish popular in Uttar Pradesh. Many UP brahmins do not eat meat. That is why, Brahmins started preparing a vegetarian variety of biryani called tahiri.
Middle Eastern Beryani
The cuisine of the East and Middle East have many similarities. For example, both have biryanis and kebabs. The Middle Eastern biryani popular in Iraq, Bahrain and other Arab states has a stronger saffron base than the Indian versions.
Malabar biryani is mostly prepared on the coasts of Kerala. This biryani has very little spice and is cooked with meat that is first deep fried.
Afghanistan is pretty close to India to miss out on its own type of Biryani. Afghani biryani too has a very strong dose of saffron and is served with dry fruits.
Bhatkali biryani has been derived from the Bombay biryani. It uses more onions than any of the different types of biryanis we discussed above. The meat and rice are cooked in an onion gravy. This biryani is popular in the Konkan belt and the coasts of Karnataka.
Nasi Kebuli is a biryani like preparation of ghee, meat and rice from Indonesia. As Indonesia is a melting pot of many different Asian cultures, this biryani has borrowed a little from all Asian countries.