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The Biryani Special! |
Got this by email. I am feeling hungry...
Did you know that there are over 26 varieties of biryani made in India?
Or that biryani comes from the Persian word 'birian' which means 'fried before cooking'?
Or that, though it is considered a royal dish of the Nizams and the Nawabs it was never ever served to the royal guests?
Biryani is believed to have been brought to India by Taimur Lang, or Taimur, the lame.
One branch of the biryani comes from the Mughals, who got the dish from Persia and subsequently during their reign in India, the biryani entrenched itself in places like Lucknow, Hyderabad, et cetera.
The other branch of biryani is supposed to have crossed the Arabian Sea and come to Calicut, brought in by the Arab traders. The Calicut Biryani is served with vinegar pickles and papads fried in coconut oil, is a softer variety and light on the stomach has no relation in terms of taste to the other biryanis in the country.
Almost every community today has its own version of the biryani. In the northwest is the Memoni Biryani (people who inhabited the area between Sindh Gujarat and Pakistan) is an extremely spicy biryani, while the Sindhi Mutton Biryani is distinctly different.
There is also the Turkish Pilaf and the Iranian Biryani. The Bohris have their version of biryani that is normally cooked for their weddings and is flavoured with a lot of tomatoes. The Kashmiri Bhuna Ghost Biryani and the Kashmiri Katche Ghost ki Biryani is the benevolence of the Mughal rulers to the northern-most state of India.
The Lucknow (Awadhi) Biryani is the footprint the Moghuls left on the eastern part of India. From Lucknow the biryani moved to Calcutta when, in 1856, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was deposed by the British.
His team of cooks moved with him and so did the biryani. In Kolkata the biryani entered poorer homes, which could not afford meat everyday, so the meat was replaced by potatoes.
Aurangzeb is believed to have invaded the South and installed the Nizam-ul-mulk who later as the Asfa Jahi ruler became the Nizam of Hyderabad. That explains the movement of the Biryani down south. From the Nizam's kitchen originated the Hyderabadi Biryani and the delicacies that go with it like the Mirchi ka Salan, Dhanshak and Baghare Baingan.
It is not difficult to imagine that the repertoire included 26 types because the Hyderabadi Biryani itself is made in different styles -- 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.
The Vegetable Biryani is the 'tarkari' version, which was originally made for the cashiers and financiers of the Nawabs, who were Mahajan Hindus. The Hyderabadi version of the mixed Vegetable Biryani is the Tahiri.
Marriages between the families of the Nizams of Hyderabad and the Nawab of Arcot explains the journey of the biryani into what is called Arcot Biryani, another distinct type of biryani, which is made with smaller grains of rice.
Biryani is 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).
And what's the test of a good biryani? Take a palm-full of the biryani and sprinkle it on the floor. If all the grains remain separate, then you have a good biryani. It means that the rice has been fried just right to ensure it doesn't stick. And, the biryani should not be too spicy. It should be fragrant
[ Last edited by chumpon at 5-12-2007 07:06 PM ]
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