Biryani - Musings of a Hyderabadi


Revealing the secrets behind the taste of biryani. Also, know about the places where you get authentic biryani in Hyderabad.

Most of us must have had some form of Biryani at some time or the other but do not know much about its origin, different varieties or the hallmarks of a true Biryani. So lets get "going and take a look at all these and more... "

Origin and History


Biryani comes from the Persian word 'Birian' which means 'fried before cooking'. The credit for the Hyderabadi form of the Biryani goes to the Mughals, who introduced us to this typical Persian dish. Aurangzeb invaded the South and installed the Nizam-ul-mulk who later became the Nizam of Hyderabad. During the Nizam rule, Biryani came to occupy an important place in the menu, especially during the special occasions and went on to acquire the name Hyderabadi Biryani. The Hyderabadi Biryani is served with Mirch-Ka-Saalan and a light version of Raitha. You would be surprised to know that there are more than 30 varieties of Biryani, which include the Katchi Biryani, where the meat is marinated in curd and then steamed with rice, and the Pakki Biryani, where the meat is cooked with all the accompanying spices and then the rice is simmered with the resultant gravy redolent of mace, ittar and kewra in a sealed handi with saffron and cardamom. For all the vegetarians there is Vegetable Biryani which is the 'tarkari' version.The Hyderabadi version of the mixed Vegetable Biryani is the 'tahiti'.

Biryani is the most abused delicacy in the entire world!!

Let me explain why. Of the different cities in India that I have been to and where I had tasted Biryani, they all came up with rice that is mixed with Chicken/Mutton/Fish curry that is fried for a while and served hot as "So-Called" Chicken/Mutton/Fish Biryani.

Biryani must always dum cooked. The rice is fried separately and parboiled while the meat or the vegetables are marinated separately. They two are then layered and cooked under a dum (an earthen cooking pot).

The best Biryani that have I ever tasted was at a friends place during Ramzan and of course there is my Dad's Classical Sunday Biryani. People in Hyderabad or visitors to Hyderabad can enjoy good Biryani at the Paradise restaurant near the Paradise circle in Secunderabad. Abhiruchi at Secunderabad and Cafe Bahar near old MLA quaters are also good places for Biryani. You can also try out Bawarchi near RTC X Roads though it has not been so popular in recent times.

Finally what makes a biryani "Biryani"?

First and foremost it should be fragrant as a result of the special grain of rice commonly known as "Basmati" that is used to make it, and dum cooking, the process that is used to make it.

Biryani should not be too spicy and greasy.

A simple test to determine how well Biryani is cooked, would be to take a palm-full of Biryani and sprinkle it on a plate. If all the grains remain separated, then you have a good Biryani, as that means the rice has been fried just right to ensure it doesn't stick.

Guys! I think you need to order a Biryani right way after reading about this mouth-watering dish.


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