Biryani is a very well known Indian Dish, known for its unique flavor and taste.
Some of the interesting facts that I have collected are as follows
1. 2 AD mentions a Rice Dish known as "Oon Soru" (Tamil) which was used to "feed" military warriors. The ingredients mentioned were rice, ghee, meat, turmeric powder, coriander powder, pepper and bay leaf. This looks closer to Biryani we know of today.
2. "Birian" happens to be a Persian word, which means "Fried before cooking". The name itself proposes a cooking style for Rice/Meat. The "Dum" or "cooking in steam" style of cooking has also its origins in Arabia.Many Historians beleive that this is the origination of Biriyani. However you can argue that "Birian" may owe its origination to the 2nd century dish "Oon Soru".
3. Taimur (1336-1405) happens to be the "muslim ruler" who brought this dish to India from Persia according to some documentation. Taimur was in India between 1394 and 1399.
4. There is also story mentioned in Mughal Era that Mumtaz Mahal(1593-1631) once did a surprise visit to army barracks, and found that the army personnels were under nourished. She asked her chef to cook a dish which has Rice, Meat and spices giving carbs, protiens etc in right quantity to the warriors and this is the origins of Biryani. Now this story has resemblance to fact presented in #1 and in time line can be considered factually correct after Taimur's invasion.
5. Lucknow (Awadhi) Biryani is considered the "start" of all the Biryani's.
6. 1856, British deposed Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in Calcutta, as his cooks moved with him to Calcutta it gave rise to Calcutta Biryani.
7. Hyderabadi Biryani also has its traces in Mughal empire. The origins of the Asif Jahi dynasty can be traced to Chin Qalich Khan who was the grandfather of the first Nizam and the commander of the Mughal army during Aurangzeb’s reign. Chin Qalich Khan led the attack of the Mughal army into the Deccan under his Emperor’s ambitious plans of expanding the Mughal empire. During Aurangzeb’s last siege of Golconda in 1687, Chin Qalich Khan was wounded. He died in Atapur village near Himayath Sagar. Chin Qalich Khan’s son, Nawab Ghaziuddin Khan, married the daughter of Sadullah Khan, Prime Minister of Aurangzeb. A son was born, and the Emperor named him Mir Qumaruddin. At 26, he was appointed Commander in Chief and Viceroy, first at Bijapur, then Malwa and later of the Deccan.Subsequently, the Mughal empire declined. There was much confusion after the death of Aurangzeb, and Mir Qumaruddin established his position as Viceroy Farukh Siar who was the Mughal Emperor for a brief tenure conferred on Mir Qumaruddin the title Nizam-ul-mulk Fateh Jung. He thus became the first Nizam. appointed Nizam-ul-mulk (1724) as the Asfa Jahi ruler of Hyderabad. Under Nizam-ul-mulk present day "Hyderbadi Biryani" came into existence. The nizams also had a vegetarian version of Biryani and called it Tahiri(Tehri) Biryani.
8. 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.
9. In the northwest Memoni Biryani (people who inhabited the area between Sindh Gujarat and Pakistan) got evolved which is an extremely spicy biryani.
10. Another northwest Biryani that got famous is Sindhi Biryani which has its unique falvor through addition of "dried plums" and it also borrows addition of "potatoes" from Bombay Biryani.
Receipe for Biryani
One midway shortcut is to use either Laziza/Shaan Biryani Mix. If you don't want to do that and want it to be done using the first principle then here is the recipe. You can also make "Vegetarian biryani" by replacing Meat with combination of (Carrots, Cauliflower, Beans, Potatoes and Capsicums) although you would find me saying there isn't such thing as Veg biryani ;-)
2 pounds of Lamb or Chicken or Goat
2 pounds of Basmati Rice (long grain)(soaked in water for 30 minutes)
1 pound of Potato
A cup of Yogurt
Salt (to taste)
2 medium Onions
2 tsp. of Garlic Paste
2 tsp. of Ginger Paste
(If you don't plan to use the masala mix then following spices are needed)
1 tsp. of Red Chilli Powder
8 small Cardamoms
4 big black Cardamoms
10 pieces of solid Black Peppers
1 tsp. of Cumin
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 Bay Leaves
5-10 dried plums
Oil 2/3 cup
6 Green Chillies
1 bunch of Cilantro Leaves
1/2 bunch of Mint Leaves (Podina)
2 tsp of Saffron
1 Lemon cut thin
Slice the onion in hoizontal way so that rings are formed and fry it in oil until its light brown.
Add garlic, ginger, salt, chili powder, cloves, cardamoms, black peppers, zeera, bayleaves, cinnamon to the above mix. Fry this until the water is dry.
Add the meat and fry it again for 10 minutes.
Add yogurt and dry plums to the mix and fry for 5 mins.
Add some water and cook on low heat until the meats cooked. Lamb without pressure cooker takes 2-3 hours while chicken takes 45 mins.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into large chunks. Boil (or microwave) them until they're half cooked. Add it to the mix and cook for more time till everything is cooked.
At the end there should be 2-3 cups of gravy in the mix atleast and it should be a thick gravy
Soak Rice in warm water for 20-30 mins.
Remove water from Rice and after its dry stir it in a pan of butter (5 tsps)
Now add saffron to the mix and put it in rice cooker. Make Sure that rice has to be 3/4th cooked and not totally cooked. I cook this in lamb broth that i make of 1-2 bones and meat jsut for more flavor.
Take a big aluminum tray (biggest in the store) and then form this layer
Layer 1: Rice
Layer 2: gravy of lamb and lamb peices
Layer 3: mint, cilantro chopped with lemon slices.
Repeat this till the tray is full with top layer always being layer3. Keep this in oven for 30-45 mins for 300C.