18 varieties of Biryani

18 varieties of Biryani with a short description are given below: 

1. Hyderabadi Dum Biryani

Some say the Hyderabadi biryani is closer to the original Iranian recipe than the Mughlai one. It originated in the kitchens of the Nizam where the royal cooks marinated meat overnight with spices and then soaked them in yogurt before layering with long-grain aromatic Basmati rice and cooking in a sealed handi. The biryani is redolent of fried onions, a lot of spices (some not used in Lucknowi biryani) and dry fruits.

2. Lucknowi Biryani / Awadhi Biryani

The baap of all biryanis out there, the Awadhi biryani is what all other biryanis aspire to be, in terms of the flavour and aroma. In Lucknow, the people who make biryani are called karigars - artisans - rightfully so, because in Awadhi cuisine, the making of biryani is not just about cooking it. It is about saleeka (etiquette) and nafasat (artistry) leading to itminan (satisfaction). The biryani they prepare is made in a pukki way - where the meat and spices are half-cooked separately from the rice, flavoured with other spices and saffron. These are then layered in a deep-bottomed handi, covered, sealed with dough and cooked to perfection. The addition of kewra water, or screwpine water gives the Awadhi Biryani its final touch of royalty.

3. Kolkata Biryani

Calcutta biryani is a great deal similar to the Lucknowi biryani because it came to the city with the deposed Awadhi nawab Wajid Ali Shah. However, it is a lot more subtle in taste because the royal khansamas of his kitchen had to make do with limited resources and therefore, they added potatoes and eggs to max out the volume in the absence of a lot of meat. The nawab's relative poverty gave rise to what is now a dish in its own right - it's unthinkable that Calcutta's biryani would not have the holesome potato and the egg!

4. Thalassery Biryani

Kerala's Thalassery biryani differs from others in that it does not use the long-grain aromatic Basmati rice in the making of biryani. What it uses instead is the Jeerakasala rice - a short-grained local variant, which is cooked separately from the meat and then combined to blend the flavours. Being from Kerala - the spice pot of India, Thalassery biryani uses a large number of spices, including, mace, peppers, fennel, cinnamon and others. Another distinguishing feature of Thalassery biryani is the bista or fried onions, cashews and raisins that must be used to garnish the biryani before it is served.

5. Kampuri Biryani

The Kampuri biryani originated from the Muslim town of Kampur in Assam. This simple and delicious dish is packed with colour. The chicken is first cooked with peas, carrots, beans and potatoes, and bell peppers, spiced with the mild cardamom and nutmeg. It is then mixed with the rice and cooked over a slow fire.

6. Mangalorean Biryani

Mangalorean biryani uses a generous amount of meat, yes, but what is more popular in their recipe is seafood. Being a coastal town, Mangalore has access to excellent fish and prawn varieties, and combined in biryani, these are simply divine. Green chillies impart the heat in the biryani, which is otherwise flavoured by ghee and very few other spices. There is heavy use of fennel and coriander, and the method of making this biryani is the pukki biryani method where half-cooked meat/fish is layered
with rice in a sealed handi and slow-cooked.

7. Memoni Biryani

The Memoni trading community of Sindh-Gujarat serves its own version of biryani, which is a derivative of the Pakistani Sindhi biryani. Memoni biryani is made with lamb, yogurt, fried onions, and potatoes, and fewer tomatoes compared to Sindhi biryani. Memoni biryani also uses less food colouring compared to other biryanis, allowing the rich colours of the various meats, rice, and vegetables to blend without too much of the orange colouring,so the colour in the biryani comes entirely from spices, which give Memoni biryani its signature fiery character.

8. Ambur Biryani

The Nawabs of Arcot are credited with the development of the Ambur Biryani, the most famous of the biryanis from the Arcot region of Tamil Nadu. It has two distinguishing features, firstly, it uses a short-grained Seeraga Samba rice, as opposed to the traditional long-grained Basmati rice, and secondly, it is a pukki biryani, cooked in dum, and not the Kachhi biryani style followed in Hyderabad. The spices that go into this include garlic, cinnamon, cloves, mint, chillies, and lime, among a host of others. The mutton and spices are tempered with curd, which makes the taste tangy, but not overtly spicy. Ambur Biryani is served with a fiery brinjal curry, called ennai kathirkai.

9. Bhatkali Biryani

Bhatkal, a tiny coastal town in karnataka, is home to the rather underrated Bhatkali Biryani. For the Bhatkali Biryani, the chicken, the spices, and the rice are all cooked separately, and mixed only seconds before serving. The masala contains onions, chillies and other spices, to which the cooked chicken is added. Rice, meanwhile boils away in another handi. The steaming hot mixtures are mixed on the plate, garnished with fried onions and curry leaves! Unlike the other dum biryanis, the rice is completely clean from all meaty flavours, until you start digging in, and the masala instantly creates a delicious sensation in your mouth. No oil, no ghee...this is a biryani that everybody will love!

10. Doodh ki Biryani

A complete opposite of the more popular, spicy Hyderabadi biryani, doodh ki biryani also originates in Hyderabad, but is flavoured with creamy milk, roasted nuts and minimal spices, making for a very delicate flavour, far removed from most of the fiery biryani you will find in Hyderabad and other parts of South India.

11. Bohri Biryani

The distinguishing factor in the west Indian Bohri biryani is the moistness. Cooked the dum way with charcoals over a slow-fire, the marinated meat is smoked, then layered with half-boiled rice and slow-steamed in a sealed pot for two hours to trap all the aromas. The seamless marriage of flavours during the cooking process yields a moist biryani, instead of a drier version that is more common elsewhere. The Bohri trader community of Mumbai zealously safeguards the traditional spices that go into the making of this biryani, and for them, it has to be just perfect or nothing.

12. Kozhikode Biryani

This is also known as Mappila biryani or Calicut biryani. The Mappilas were a trading community from the shores of Calicut and developed a unique culinary tradition. Again, instead of the Basmati or even the Jeerakasala, the Kozhikode Biryani uses the Khyma Rice and is tempered with several spices, giving it its signature spicy taste.

13. Kalyani Biryani

Also known as the ‘poor man's Hyderabadi biryani', this variant is from the Bidar region of Karnataka. The Kalyani Nawabs of Bidar were stripped of their estates by the British and one of the recently-unemployed royal cooks set up a biryani shop, and named his creation the Kalyani Biryani. The Kalyani Biryani has full-sized chunks of buffalo meat, and is flavoured with cumin seeds, coriander seeds and tomatoes, making it very different from the succulent mutton and saffron flavoured Hyderabadi Biryani. It is spicy and flavourful, robust, and is a far cry from the subtleties of the Mughlai or the Hyderabadi Biryani.

14. Dindigul Biryani

While Dindigul biryani is a sub-class of biryani in its own right, it is the Thalapakatty biryani that is the winner here. It is a family recipe, and the owners guard it with their lives. The biryani uses the Seeraga samba rice, and Kannivadi goat meat, soft and succulent. The perfection depends on the delicate flavours that go into the rice, making this one of the most popular dishes in Tamil Nadu.

15. Beary Biryani

Beary Biryani comes from the Muslim community of the Dakshin Kannada region, and is derived from the spicier Mangalorean Biryani. The Beary Biryani, however, is the mildest biryani of all. The predominant flavour is the ghee and the spice mixture, which is kept in the rice overnight, allowing the flavours to seep in. The meats include chicken, mutton, prawns and beef.

16. Tehri Biryani

The traditional biryani was a meat dish, which proved to be a problem for the strictly vegetarian Hindu accounts officers at the Mughal court. Thus was born Tehari or Tehri, where the meat was substituted by potatoes, creating a vegetarian version of the cult dish. In Kashmir and parts of Uttar Pradesh, Tehri, laden with vegetables, is still a popular street food.

17. Mutanjan Biryani

A Kashmiri variant, Mutanjan Biryani is unique because of the large amount of sugar that goes into making it! Yes, sugar, you read us right! Akin to a zarda pulao, the Mutanjan biryani is prepared with an almost equal amount of mutton, rice and sugar, blended with cream, spices, saffron and screwpine water as well as rose water, making it one of the most unique on this list.

18. Mumbai Biryani

Apart from the Bohri biryani, another form of biryani calls Mumbai home - this biryani is flavoured with vegetables and/or meat and is flavoured with sweet plums and screwpine (kewra water), lending it a tangy, yet sweet, flavour. It is slow-cooked in the dum style, making it an extremely moist version of the traditional biryani.


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