History and Politics of Biryani

The word Biryani or Biriyani comes from Birinj, Persian for rice. The word Birinj itself is a throwback to an ancient pre-Aryan Persian word for rice: Virinzi. There is even a sweet variant. A rich dish cooked in traditional homes in Iran called Kheer Birinj. Perhaps when the Aryans moved east, the word for rice mutated into Sanskrit as Vreehi.

In India and Pakistan today, biryani is a special spicy dish consisting of a mixture of partially cooked or raw meat of different kinds (goat, lamb, chicken, rabbit, fish, prawns and sometimes boiled eggs and potatoes of land) with rice. This layered dish is then cooked over low heat and topped with browned onions and dried fruit.

India has a number of regional versions. Hyderabad boasts of Kachche Gosht ki Biriyani (in which meat and rice are sprinkled with a mixture of saffron milk unevenly so that some grains are colored while others remain white). Then there is the Lucknowi variant, delicately flavored and less full of Ghee, called Pulao. A variant of Kashmir is Yakhni Pulao. Biryani started to be cooked in Nawabi kitchens during the time of Nawab Asif-ud-Daula. The kind-hearted Nawab had his own version of the MNREGA to feed the hungry by building elaborate Imambadas. While laborers and masons did their work, cooks created a unique meal for them by throwing rice, meat, ghee and various spices into a large cauldron and letting it sit over a slow fire with the sealed top covered. live charcoal. ashes.

Once the Nawab was passing as the starving workers were being served, and after sniffing the dish, he ordered it to be prepared for his royal table as well. The Lucknow version has been gradually refined by many master chefs. The resulting final version entered Bengal with Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, who was very fond of all the finer things in life.

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