Let’s start with a caveat upfront, order or cook your favourite dish before reading this blog. This is because the content in this blog will make you drool instantly, and you will be salivating even more with every line. We will tell you about different types of Biryani in this blog, which is loved by Indians and even foreigners visiting India.
Did you know: Anecdotes traces the origins of this dish to Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan’s queen. It is said that she once visited army barracks and found the army personnel under-nourished. She asked the chef to prepare a special dish which provided balanced nutrition, and thus the biryani was created.
The mouth-watering concoction of basmati rice, chicken or paneer pieces, onions and aromatic spices is what makes a Biryani. But, the preparation and spices change according to each state. Biryani has many forms in India. Let’s take a look at the top Varieties of Biryani in India.
Types of Biryani in India
- Hyderabadi Biryani
- Lucknawi Biryani
- Calcutta Biryani
- Malabar Biryani
- Mughlai Biryani
- Sindhi Biryani
- Ambur Biryani
- Bombay Biryani
1. Hyderabadi Biryani
When someone speaks of Biryani, the name of the city of Nizams inadvertently pops up. Hyderabad for many foodies is just Biryani, it starts with Hyderabadi Biryani and terminates there. These are predominantly of two types, Pakki (Cooked) Biryani and Kacchi (Raw), they differ in the preparation. Kacchi Biryani is made of raw marinated meat (chicken or lamb) sandwiched between the layers of basmati rice embellished with saffron, rose water, golden fried onions and dried fruits, both are slow-cooked in a dough-sealed earthen pot over a charcoal fire, which results in aromatic and punchy biryani.
However, the Pakki Biryani is one which entails cooking of meat and basmati rice separately and then mixed to get the perfect blend. If you’re going out for lunch or dinner with a local in Hyderabad, you will surely eat any of the variants of the famous Hyderabadi Biryani. All this makes this dish tops the list of the best among all the types of Biryani in India.
- Where to eat: Sarvi Restaurant, Begum’s Dum Pukht, Nizam Club, Biryani Wallah, Bawarchi, Jewel of Nizam
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2. Lucknawi Biryani
This delectable dish is straight from the streets of Lucknow or Awadh as it used to be known previously. Lucknawi biryani is different due to its preparation and cooking style known as dum pukht. The spices are somewhat on the lower side vis-à-vis Hyderabadi biryani, thus lighter on the stomach. In the preparation, the chicken mixed with spices is cooked separately from the basmati rice which are seasoned with garden-fresh spices in the likes of saffron, cinnamon and star anise. These are then mixed in a deep vessel known as Handi and again cooked until the flavours penetrate.
This technique brings out the perfect blend of both the main ingredients. Also, unlike Calcutta biryani, Lucknawi biryani does not have potatoes in it. To sum it up concisely, Lucknawi biryani is one of the finest in the types of biryani section in India. Go, see for yourself.
Tip: This is the best biryani to eat for people who are averse to spicy biryani and want to have a lighter meal
- Where to eat: Lalla Biryani, Mashi Biryani World, Tunday Kababi, Wahid Biryani, The Mughal’s Dastarkhwan, The Biryani Express
3. Calcutta Biryani
Another gastronomical delight in this segment coming from the heart of East India. Albeit being originated from Kolkata, the then Calcutta, its actual roots can be traced back to the Awadhi Biryani of Lucknow. Just like the natives of Bengal, this biryani has a sweet tinge to it, the spices used in preparation are milder than what is used in other parts of the country. Two subtle differences between Lucknawi biryani and Calcutta biryani are yellow rice and presence of mashed potatoes in the latter.
Did you know: An interesting anecdote behind adding potatoes and boiled eggs in Calcutta biryani was to address the shortage of meat when Wajid Ali Shah used to rule in 1856
This biryani is characterized by subtle flavours with light yellow rice which is infused with curd based meat, potatoes (the key ingredient) and boiled eggs. And if this is not enough to convince you to order this dish, there’s more to it — saffron, kewra and nutmeg which lends a soothing aroma to the biryani. You just cannot afford to miss out on this famous type of biryani the next time you’re in West Bengal.
- Where to eat: Oudh 1590, Kareem’s Biryani, Arsalan Restaurant, Shiraz Golden Restaurant, Aminia Restaurant, Dada Boudi Hotel
4. Malabar Biryani
A contribution in the varieties in the long list of types of Biryani from the Southern part of India. Also, known as Thalassery Biryani hails from the Malabar region in Kerala. This biryani, unlike its counterparts, is both sweet and spicy. Also, instead of using basmati rice, they use an indigenous variety of rice, which is Jeerakasala or Khyma. Khyma is a small grain thin rice which is very prevalent in this part of the world and a pleasure to eat. The ingredients that make this biryani so delicious are the famous Malabar spices, fennel seeds, turmeric, fried onions, raisins, sautéed cashews, meat or chicken. All this comes together to give you a taste you will never forget. If you are a Biryani lover, this type of biryani should find its way in your wishlist without a shadow of a doubt.
- Where to eat: Malabar Biryani Centre, Hotel Malabar, Yaa Mohaideen Biryani Centre, Al Jawahar, Karim’s, Lucky Restaurant
5. Mughlai Biryani
We’ve known Mughals for all the wrong reasons owing to the cruel history of their invasion in India. But, they gave us many souvenirs as well, one of them is Mughlai biryani. This biryani was known to have originated in the kitchens of Nawabs. It is prepared using yoghurt, tender chicken pieces, ginger garlic paste, chilli powder, almond paste, fiery green chillies, desi ghee, and dry fruits. It is a highly sumptuous dish with a royalty touch attached with it.
This type of biryani is highly prevalent in Northern part of India especially in the Delhi-NCR region owing to the rich history of Mughal bastion at that place. Tourists from all parts of the country and even the foreign tourists love this biryani and they make sure to grab their share before leaving the capital. In a nutshell, this is one of the so many types of biryani which has old cultural roots and significance, you cannot miss out on this one.
- Where to eat: Royal Darbar, Town Tables, Karim’s Old Delhi, Aslam Biryani Chandni Chowk
6. Sindhi Biryani
As the name implies, it is not difficult to figure out that from where this biryani originated. Yes, the Sindh Province (now in Pakistan) is its birthplace. There’s a lot that goes behind in preparing this special type of biryani as the recipe is somewhat eccentric but the taste is super amazing. This biryani is made from these key ingredients- roasted spices, mint leaves, chopped green chillies, coriander leaves, fried onions, nuts, dry fruits, and sour yoghurt and yes, of course, some roasted goat meat or mutton and white rice with a mild spicy curry.
All this when comes together above the flame makes the biryani’s appetizing flavour even more aromatic and piquant. Plums and potatoes are added in this biryani for even a better taste. This biryani is complimented with dry fruits, nuts and onion rings on the top to give it a fine finishing. This is one type of biryani that you should definitely try atleast once in your lifetime.
- Where to eat: Biryani Queen, Zaffran, The Claremont, Heritage Sindhi Biryani
7. Ambur Biryani
Another dish without which the travelling experience to South India is incomplete. Ambur biryani is Tamil Nadu’s gift to the country and the world. It has a South Indian twist in its preparation, and that typical taste is what differentiates it from other types of biryanis. In the preparation of Ambur biryani, the meat (chicken or mutton) is cooked separately and then added to samba rice. The chicken is soaked in curd and seasoned with mint and coriander cooked for hours and then finally is mixed with seeraga samba rice in the presence of other spices. Now while serving, it comes with an accompaniment which is brinjal curry or brinjal masala as they call it adds to its already delicious taste. In totality, Ambur biryani is a must addition to your bucket list the next time you are planning to visit Tamil Nadu.
- Where to eat: Ambur Star Biryani since 1890 Old Shop, Khwaja Restaurant, Karim’s Restaurant, Telgi Biryani
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8. Bombay Biryani
Yes, Bombay is not just restricted to Bollywood or Capital Market, it is much more than that and Gateway of India. Bombay biryani has its roots or origin from the Irani style of biryani. It is composed of chicken (vegetables or mutton), fried potatoes which are spicy, dried plums, and kewra water (screw pine). All these eclectic ingredients when mixed together form a sweet, tangy and distinctly aromatic flavour. This biryani is a bit richer in oil and fried onions and sweeter than above-mentioned types of biryanis.
Inclusion of kewra is what differentiates this biryani from other forms. Also, this biryani contains the maximum number of spices and thus tastes a lot different. Bombay biryani is worthy of a trip to Mumbai on a weekend from nearby places, such is the fame and magic of this dish that attracts myriad connoisseurs towards it. This is one form of biryani that you should eat whenever you get the chance to.
- Where to eat: Jaffer Bhai’s Darbar, Noor Mohammadi Hotel, Café Noorani, Persian Darbar, Kebabs and Curries, Zaffran’s Ghosht Biryani
These were some of our top picks in this edition of Types of biryanis in India. We hope your mouth is salivating by now and you are ready to try out all the types of biryanis mentioned above.
Do let us know in the comments section below about your experience in eating these biryanis and does it match your expectations or not. We’d love to hear from you!