In South Asia, Biryani is a classical cuisine loved by, well… almost everyone, including myself! As soon as I arrived in Bengaluru this is a dish that I saw for sale at every hotel, restaurant, and even some cafés! I knew it just had to be appetizing if everyone was eating it! More importantly, not only is it flavorsome, it has become one of my favorite dishes here in India! –Apart from anything that has paneer in it; after all, I have had Paneer Biryani! 😀
There are many different theories that list how Biryani came about. One that I have read is that the Mughals brought it to South Asia along with the appearance of other dishes such as pilaf (pulao) and kebabs. In fact, it is believed that Emperor Shah Jahan’s Queen (Mumtaz Mahal 1593-1631) is who inspired this delectable dish in the 1600’s. The story tells that she went for a tour of the army barracks In India only to find that the soldiers were incredibly malnourished. She approached her chef and asked if he could make a meal that included spices, rice, and meat to provide carbs as well as protein to the warriors. Thus the chef created Biryani!
Additionally, there is another story dating back before the appearance of Biryani in the 1600s that involves a dish named Oon Soru, mentioned in Tamil literature. The saying goes that this meal was created to feed the military warriors and looks to be very similar to the Biryani we love today. It consisted of similar ingredients including the spices turmeric, coriander, bay leaves, and pepper together with rice and ghee. However, this rice dish dates back to 2 A.D!
In fact, the actual word is said to have derived from “Biryan” or “Beriyan” meaning, to fry or roast. The word itself derives from the Persian (Iranian) language, and many believe the Persian ruler Timir (1336 – 1405) is the one who brought this dish to India. Additionally, most people discredit the story of Biryani being created by the Mughals due to the fact that it was in India even before Babur (1483 – 1530). But what is extremely interesting here is that Babur is the great-great-great-grandson of Timir, and is also who laid the basis for the Mughal Dynasty, becoming the first Mughal Emperor.
Alternatively, maybe it is safe to say that this dish Oon Soru was enjoyed by so many that it eventually evolved into the dish we now know as Biryani. Meaning that each of these stories could be correct, playing a part in how Biryani is prepared and which spices are used today.
In the end, no matter if these stories are true or not, I’m glad that the dish came about! There are actually many ways to make Biryani depending on which meat you want to add, or not add, and also the numerous spices that can make it either savory or spicy!
Have are 5 amazing Vegetable Biryani recipes!
Hyderabadi Biryani with Cashew
Paneer Biryani (One of my favorites!)
Qabooli Biryani (with Chana Dal – A lentil)
Mughlai Vegetable Biryani
Coconut Milk Vegetable Biryani
Also for the meat lovers, I have not forgotten about you! Here are 5 meaty Biryani dishes to suit anyone’s carne craving!
Chicken Kofta Biryani (A chicken meatball)
Chicken Biryani with Coconut Milk (Pressure Cooker)
Hyderabadi Shrimp Biryani
Biryani dishes are traditionally served with Raita on the side. Raita is a yogurt dish mixed with cooked or raw veggies; it’s all up to you! I’ve even seen Raita made by adding fruits to the mix. It is often served as a side dish to have a cooling effect to combat with the spicier tastes of some Asian cuisines. Here are 18 different Raita dishes, to serve with any of the above recipes!
Naan bread is a personal favorite of mine…. Well, any bread typically is haha! But I am giving this awesome Naan recipe to any of you who also like eating your Biryani and Raita with it!
Actually, it makes a great snack anytime and I’ve even made Chicken Tandoori Burgers using Naan as the bun… but we’ll save that for a later date 🙂