Biryani is a dish that has taken birth centuries ago in India and yet the dish still manages to shine high above all other dishes. A dish that started out as a staple for soldiers, to a dish fit for royality, Biriyani has managed to become the star of al meus. Our country has so much to offer in its culinary platter but the one dish that we Indians unanimously love is the sumptuous biryani. With a number of variants available, Biriyani has become a dish that suits the taste buds of people from any state of the Country or of any continent for that matter.

knowithow - biriyani


Though it may appear to be a dish native to India, in reality, the dish originated in a place far far away. One legend says that Timur, a Turkish-Mongol conqueror brought the antecedent of the biryani with him when he came to India. It was said to be the diet of Timur’s army, to help them stay nourished and strong. In the olden days a pit would be dug and a pot filled with Spices, Rice and available meats would be placed in it and cooked for hours before being eaten. Another legend says that the dish was brought to the coast of malabar by the Arabs.

knowithow mumtaz

The most popular Legend has it that it was Mumtaz Mahal, who ordered the chefs of the Mughal palace to pull up a healthy dish for the weak and undernourished soldiers and the result was the wonderful, aromatic and mouthwatering – Biriyani, all thanks to the beautiful queen! The Nizams of Hyderabad and the Nawabs of Lucknow also had their fair share in popularizing Biriyani.


Biryani is derived from the Persian word Birian, which means ‘fried before cooking’ and Birinj, the Persian word for rice. The perfect biryani calls for meticulously measured ingredients and a practiced technique. Traditionally, “the dum pukht” method was used to make biryani. In this method, the ingredients are loaded in a pot and slow cooked over charcoal. sometimes the charcoal is also put on top, to allow the dum or steam to works its way inside.

knowithow -dumbiriyani process

Other than the technique, spices also play a critical role in dishing out a good biryani – some recipes call for a very limited use of spices while others use more than 15 different spices. Meat or chicken is often the main ingredient, though, in some coastal varieties, fish, prawns, and crabs are also used. In the north, long grain brown rice was traditionally used to make biryani which is replaced by the aromatic basmati rice today. In the south,  biryanis were and are still made using local varieties of rice.


In general, there are two types of Biryani – the Kutchi (raw) biryani and the Pukki (cooked) biryani.

Kutchi biryani: In this method, the uncooked meat is layered with raw rice in a handi (a thick bottomed pot) and cooked on low flame for hours to make a perfect steam cooked Biriyani.

Pukki biryani: In this method, flavors cooked meat and rice are layered in the handi flavors blend together on further cooking.


Biriyani has evolved to fit the taste of people from different regions resulting in a number of varieties.Its many varieties reflect the local tastes, traditions and the evolution of their regions from centuries.Here are some lip-smacking regional variants that every biryani lover must try in their life time.

1. Mughlai Biriyani:

This Biriyani fit for a king definitely reminds us of the royalty of Mughals when it is eaten. Its richness and its perfectly sized and spiced pieces of juicy meat are a treat for the tastebuds and the rice enveloped in Khewra water add more to the richness of the dish. This dish is a true representation that of royalty of the Mughals and how the saw cooking as a form of art.

knowithow - Mughalai Biriyani-min

2. Hyderabadi Biriyani:

The world-famous Hyderabadi Biryani came into being after Nawabs took over Hyderabad. While most other biryanis are dominated by their flavored meat, the aromatic saffron flavored rice is the star of the Hyderabadi Biriyani.

knowithow - hyderabadi biriyani

3. Calcutta Biryani:

This dish is said to be created by a legendary gourmet chef banished by the British,who tried to recreate it in his hometown calcutta. Unable to afford meat, the local cooks replaced meat with perfectly cooked golden brown potatoes – the signature of this Biryani. this Biryani primarily uses a yoghurt based marinade for the meat, which is cooked separately from the light yellow rice. It is also light on the spices. The dish also has a subtle hint of sweetness to it, just the way the Bengalies like it.

knowithow -culcatta biriyani

4. Lucknowi biryani:

The textures of Lucknowi biryani are softer and the spices milder. A yakhni stock from meat is made that is slow boiled in water infused with spices for about two hours or more. This is the reason why this biryani is more moist, tender and delicately flavoured than other biryanis. This Biryani shows how the royal awadhi’s loved their Biryani delicate.

knowithow -lucknowi biriyani

5. Thalassery biryani:

This Biriyani is one of India’s most loved biryanis. It is the perfect blend of sweet and savoury. The main ingredients are chicken wings, Malabar spices and a type of rice known as kaima. Lots of sauteed cashew nuts, sultana raisins and fennel seeds add to the sweetness of this dish where as the gravy and the spices keep it spicy and yet mild. The rice and the gravy are seperately cooked and mixed only at the time of serving.

knowithow -thalassery biriyani

6. Dindigul biryani:

A much-loved local favourite of  Chennai, this briyani has a number of dedicated outlets serving this. The jeera samba rice used in making this biryani is what sets the biryani apart from other varities. Also, instead of large chunks of meat, Dindigul biryani uses tiny cube-sized meat pieces. Curd and lemon give the biryani its tangy taste, while the use of pepper gives a unique flavour to this dish.

knowithow -thalassery biriyani

7. Sindhi Biryani:

Unlike any other biryani, the Sindhi Biryani is loaded with finely slit green chillies, fragrant spices, and roasted nuts. This briyani uses Aloo-Bhukara or dried plums which give a very distinct flavor to the dish. It also uses a lot of sour curd, which adds to the tangy taste. 

knowithow -sindhi briyani

There may be many different varieties available and yet each variety has a distinct place in our hearts. this dish never fails to tingle our tastebuds and leave us in absolute bliss everytime we have it. A plate of Biriyani on a hard day always leaves us happy and our tastebuds content.