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Indulge yourself in the sumptuous flavours of Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani

Mar 01, 2018

Indulge yourself in the sumptuous flavours of Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani
Indulge yourself in the sumptuous flavours of Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani | Credit: ChefAtLarge Website

Are you bored with life? Looking for a party to jazz up your mood? Help yourself with the ultimate stress-busting dish of India that has conquered millions of heart with its complex blend of flavours, spices and aroma - the majestic Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani. Layered with aromatic long grained basmati rice and juicy pieces of meat drowned in yogurt, Biriyani is a legend that tops the list of the infinite Indian culinary platter. 

If you are someone who would break all your fasts and diets for a delicious pot of Biriyani, then kick it up a notch to know the story of how the dish travelled across mountains and rivers to reach India. 

The origin of Biriyani goes back to the period of Persian invasions on India. The word Biriyani comes from the Persian word "biriyan" meaning fried rice. An earthen pot was filled with rice, meat, spices and was buried deep in the sand with burning embers spread on the top. The sand ensured the slow and thorough spread of heat throughout the pot. The fat drippings from spiced meat greased the entire dish and enhanced the overall taste. This method of slow cooking is the mother of today's Dum style of making Biriyani. When it was ready, the pot was dug and the meal was served to the warriors. 

It was popular in the barracks of Persian and Mughal warriors as it provided a complete balance of proteins, fiber and carbohydrates. Biriyani became a part of Hyderabadi cuisine when Aurangazeb extended his reign over the Deccan region. The royal chefs of Hyderabad fine tuned the Biriyani recipe and gave rise to the world famous Hyderabadi kacchi gosht Biriyani with succulent pieces of lamb meat.

They added their own twists to this exotic dish by topping it with a pinch of saffron, nuts roasted in ghee. 

There is another interesting story which claims that Biriyani was already on the menu of people living in the southern part of India long before the Persian and Afghani invaders put their foot on Indian soil. Tamil scriptures of 2nd century A D show references to “oon soru” (meaning meat rice in Tamil), prepared as a combination of rice and meat. 

Whether it is “oon soru” or the “persian biriyan”, let us think less about the origin and engross ourselves in the mind blowing taste of the epitome of Indian cuisine. 

The way it is prepared today:

A typical Hyderabadi Biriyani is prepared in the Dum pukht method (slow breathing process). Influenced by Awadhi cuisine, making of Hyderabadi Biriyani involves choosing the best quality long grain basmati rice and cooking it to perfection with spices and fat. Big chucks of tenderized meat marinated with thick yogurt, green chilies and herbs are kept overnight to infuse all the flavours into the chicken. The choicest selection of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, mace and many other spices are freshly ground to spice the tenderized chicken. The mixture of meat and spices is layered with parboiled basmati rice in a heavy bottomed vessel called ‘handi’ and is sealed tightly with dough. It is put on a slow flame to achieve the characteristic Dum cooking. Cooking slowly in its juices, the food retains all its natural aromas and becomes imbued with the richness of flavours that distinguishes the cuisine. 

Fried Onions is one of the main flavoring components that add richness to the dish. It is browned well to give a nice crunch and color to Biriyani. A sprinkle of kewra and rose water impart a rich aroma to the rice. The attractive color orange color is achieved by using strands of good quality saffron. It is served in copper bottomed bowls with mirchi ka salan, raita and onion slices. 

Though the core idea of preparation remains the same, the local variations have evolved into many distinctive types of Biriyani. Chicken Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani is the most preferred of all Biriyanis and is the best selling option in metro cities. It is also prepared with lamb, quail, hare and a variety of seafood. 

Preparing the perfect Biriyani at home requires a lot of skill and patience. Practicing it a number of times with meticulously measured ingredients and apt technique will help you achieve the perfect texture. The taste of the result is surely worth the effort. 

For those who cannot prepare it at home, the easy availability throughout India and online food services has increased the chances of relishing the perfect Biriyani. Swiggy, the online food company has taken an analysis of the most ordered food online in major Indian cities. Chicken biriyani tops the list and continues to rule the culinary world. Though Indians have developed an appetite for domestic and international food, Biriyani has not lost and will never lose its charm among the food lovers.

Whether it is a party or a simple get together or even a day off, embrace a generous serving of flavorful Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani and stay happy.