Hyderabadi cuisine takes pride of place in Southern or South Central India. I suspect mostly that it is because of its jovial people and I also suspect it is because my heart and my soul belongs to these vivacious people who simply make eating an art form.
India shares some beautiful secrets with Pakistan and the rest of the volatile sub-continent. The bone of contention that hit headlines a few years ago when it came to branding a type of scented and rich rice called Basmati rice. Basmati gives Biryani what Peat or Scottish water gives Scotch. They cannot exist without the other.
Biryani derives from Berya which legend hands over to and Persian origins. Berya indicated the virtue of frying or being slow roasted over fire. Between Basmati and Berya, this dish and its excruciating method of preparation have made Biryani a sought after dish. If there is one dish to die for in Indian cuisine, Biryani must make it to the top of the heap.
Biryani was arguably the confluence of Persian invaders, Muslim rule and Moghul infiltration of Deccani cuisine brought to the sub-continent as a result of wars, inter-marrying and sheer love of good food. Thanks to the Moghlai foodies, Biryani now is a household name and didn’t remain a secret of the Nizami kitchen
Biryani can be made in two distinct ways and if you check with a connoisseur of Indian food you will know the passionate fellow from the fraud with the kitchen-geek talk. When the fellow asks you what kind of Biryani do you prefer? You are wading into deep territory my friend – Kachhi Gosht ki Biryani and Pakki Biryani? Kisku kya maalum Miya? Oops, your Vah Chef is getting ahead of himself.
Kachchi Biryani or Kachhi Gosht ki biryani is very loving prepared. Like all lovers dishes, it is marinated with oozing loads of time. Meat, usually mutton and young tender choices of meat cuts are used with Goat or Mutton or tender veal (and rarely Chicken) marinated overnight (this is killer difference) with carefully selected spices soaked in curd or yoghurt. This overnight marinade Is layered between Half cooked Basmati rice with a bouquet of spices. Note the key difference is that the marinade is uncooked before layering. The other key differentiator is that the Kachchi stuff – often touted as the most authentic is cooked strictly by using dough to seal the layered rice and meat in what is known as a handi (a special shallow wide bottomed vessel) slow cooked on a dum – Dum cooked usually refers to anything cooked slowly over steaming coals. The enthusiasts have coals put on the top lid to ensure heat is provided from both sides.
· Most insist the sealant should be dough, when any proper sealant will work nicely.
· Usually Kachchi Dum ki Biryani would be cooked in the hotel often over night with smells wafting through the kitchen. I would land up early the next morning, crack open the Handi and get a taste of the first delicious juicy melt in the mouth Biryani and the escaping aroma would often get me into trouble. I was the bad boy in the Indian Kitchen. Actually any kitchen!
· All Dum Handis are invariably black bottomed. The hated vessel among kitchen stewarding guys. They would be the only ones to groan. But even the handi was finger-lickin good!
· If you fall in love with a Hyderabadi, this page is the way to his heart. So listen up and listen carefully sista.
Authentic Indian Pakki biryani
This is the short, quick and dirty way to the great dish. Your Hyderabadi lover boy gave you just a couple of hours notice. You have to get to his heart and then this is your best bet.
The marinating time for the meat is shorter. Because he never gave you all night, you’ve got to ensure the meat is cooked before you throw it into layers with the Basmati rice and for effect, you still make the stuff cook in a dough-sealed Handi. In this variant, (all you geek Chefs listen up) Pakki Yakhni (Yakhni is nothing but pre-cooked meat gravy), all meat gravy is already cooked before the Dum process.
The Kachchi Dum ki Biryani recipe may be found here but the spices and ingredients used are usually a mixture of Mace, Cumin, Cloves, cardamom, cinnamon,(The combination for Garam Masala) Bay leaves, Mint, Coriander powder, dried Onions, Ginger garlic Paste, Saffron, Yoghurt, Plums (Kashmiri) and in the case of Hyderabadi varieties dried Apricots. Coriander or Coriander leaves and Fried Onions make their way to the garnish.
Basmati Rice is a standard base.
Accompaniments to a rollicking good course of Hyderabadi biryani usually include Mirchi ka Salan, Dhanshak or Baghare Baingan which is a Hyderabadi Eggplant speciality.
For those of you wondering why your Pulau or Pulav does not turn out like Biryani, learn that Pulav does not slow infuse the flavours of one to the other. That is the secret of a Biryani. Slow. Layered. Infused. Lovingly made.
Types of Biryani
There are many types of Biryani other than Hyderabadi Biryani and you can go to the TYPES OF BIRYANI
to lean of the different variants found in India.
For more information on
Indian Food Recipes
South Indian Food
North Indian Food
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