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Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani.jpg
Chicken Biryani from Hyderabad, India
Alternative names
Biriyani, Biriani, Buriyani, Beryani or Beriani
Place of origin
Region or state
South India[1]
Main ingredients
Rice, Vegetable, Meat, Indian spices, Curd, Egg
Cookbook:Biryani  Biryani
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"Biriyani" redirects here. For the 2013 Indian film, see Biriyani (film).
"Beryani" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Beryani, Iran.
Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani.jpg
Chicken Biryani from Hyderabad, India
Alternative names
Biriyani, Biriani, Buriyani, Beryani or Beriani
Place of origin
Region or state
South India[1]
Main ingredients
Rice, Vegetable, Meat, Indian spices, Curd, Egg
Cookbook:Biryani  Biryani

Biryani, biriani, biriyani, buriyani, beryani, or beriani is a mixed rice dish from the Indian subcontinent.

The origin of the dish is unclear, according to one theory, the dish is of South Indian origin, the word 'biryani' is a corruption of a Kannada word 'bidi anna' (ಅಣ್ಣಾ ಬೀಡಿ) meaning "loose or unstuck rice", which later became "biriyani".[citation needed] South India has more varieties of biryani than any other part of the subcontinent. Also, rice is a more staple food in South India than the rest of India.[2] Other school of thought is that its of Central Asian origin, as it is probably derived from Pilaf, brought to India by the Turkic invaders from Central Asia, during the Mughal era and the name biryani is derived from the Persian word 'beryā(n)' (بریان), meaning "fried, roasted".[3]

It is a very popular dish in the Indian subcontinent and is a key element of the South Asian cuisine. Hyderabad, Malabar, Delhi, Agra, Dhaka, Kolkata, Lucknow and Karachi are the main centres of biryani. Biryani was traditionally prepared in earthenware pots and is known for its unique aroma, flavour and spices.[4]


Biryani (left) served with other Indian dishes.

The spices and condiments used in biryani may include, but are not limited to, ghee (clarified butter), nutmeg, mace,[5] pepper, cloves,[5] cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, mint leaves, ginger, onions, and garlic. The premium varieties include saffron.[5] For a non-vegetarian biryani, the main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat, chicken and mutton are the most commonly used meat for cooking a biryani, special versions may include pork, beef, fish or prawn. The dish may be served with dahi chutney or Raita, korma, curry, a sour dish of aubergine (brinjal), boiled egg and salad.

The difference between biryani and pullao is that while pullao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani denotes a dish where the rice (plain or fried) is cooked separately from the thick sauce (a greatly reduced curry of meat or vegetables). The curry and the rice are then brought together and layered, resulting in a dish of the contrasting flavours of flavoured rice (which is cooked separate with spices) and intensely flavoured sauce and meat or vegetables. This separation is partly of necessity: the proportion of meat/vegetables to the rice is high enough to make biryani a one-dish meal, and the cooking time of each of the main ingredients is significantly different from each other. In a properly made biryani, the final dish is dry or minimally moist, with the individual rice grains separate, as opposed to a risotto, where the rice is of a creamy consistency. However, many biryani recipes call for the rice to be cooked for three-quarters of the usual time, followed by layering with the meat/vegetable base, and then a final slow-steaming until fully done: this approach allows the flavours to blend somewhat.


Kacchi biryani[edit]

Kacchi biryani is a special preparation of the dish. It is called "Kacchi" (raw) because raw meat and rice are cooked together. Kacchi biryani is same as Kacchi Yeqni, meaning raw marinated meat cooked with rice. It is cooked typically with goat meat (usually 'khasi gosht', which is meat from castrated goats and often simply referred to as mutton) or with lamb, and rarely with chicken or beef. The dish is cooked layered with the meat and the yogurt based marinade at the bottom of the cooking pot and the layer of rice (usually basmati rice) placed over it. Potatoes are often added before adding the rice layer. The pot is usually sealed (typically with wheat dough) to allow cooking in its own steam and not opened till ready to serve. A boiled egg and mixed salad often accompanies the dish. It is featured in wedding feasts in Bangladesh, usually served with borhani, a spicy drink.


Tahari, tehri or tehari is the name given to the vegetarian version of biryani. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, tehari refers to biryani prepared by adding the potatoes to the rice as opposed to the case of traditional biryani, where the rice is added to the meat. In Kashmir, Tehari is sold as street food.

Mutton biryani[edit]

Mutton biryani may include castrated goat meat.

Chicken biryani[edit]

Chicken biryani is biryani usually with fried chicken or baked chicken

Egg biryani[edit]

Same preparation as chicken biryani but with a boiled egg instead of chicken, but fills the biryani appetite for people with different dietary requirements. Sometimes the rice is taken from chicken biryani and may have chicken flavour in it.

Shrimp biryani[edit]

Shrimp biryani

This particular variation of biryani brings out the tender and delicate flavour of shrimp. Unlike other kinds of biryanis, it is quicker to prepare and does not require long hours of complex marinating procedures. It is usually served with a side of baingan masaledar.[6][7]

Fish biryani[edit]

Fish biryani has the same spices as Sindhi biryani or Shrimp biryani and uses different varieties of fish instead of shrimp, beef, mutton or chicken. It is also known as fish khichdi in Britain.

Daal biryani[edit]

Daal biryani offers the addition of daal to the ingredients of biryani. Addition of daal enhances the nutritional value, and with basmati rice, colourful vegetables, spices and fragrance.

Regional variants[edit]

Hyderabadi vegetable biryani served in Tampa USA.
Bangladeshi home-made biryani
Sri Lankan Chicken Biryani
Chicken Dum Biryani
Sindhi biryani from Sindh

Hyderabadi biryani[edit]

Main article: Hyderabadi biriyani
Short-grained khyma rice and long-grained basmati rice. Khyma is used to make Thalassery biryani and basmati for Hyderabadi biryani.

Hyderabadi biriyani is a biriyani dish made with basmati rice, spices and goat. Popular variations use chicken instead of goat.

Thalassery biryani[edit]

Main article: Thalassery biryani

Thalassery biryani is also known as Malabar biryani or Kozhikode biriyani. The ingredients are chicken, spices and the specialty is the choice of rice named Khyma. Khaima rice is generally mixed with ghee. Although huge amount of spices such as mace, cashew nuts, sultana raisins, fennel-cumin seeds, tomato, onion, ginger, garlic, shallot, cloves and cinnamon are used,[8] there is only a small amount of chili (or chili powder) used in the preparation. It is made all along the Malabar area in Kerala from Kozhikode, Malappuram, Thalassery to Kasargod.

Thalassery biryani does not use basmati rice. instead a small-grained thin(not round) fragrant variety of rice known as Khyma or Jeerakasala is used. The dum method of preparation (sealing the lid with dough(maida) or loin cloth and placing red hot charcoal above the lid) is applied here. This is a Pakki biriyani, the other famed recipe Hyderabadi biryani is a kacchi biryani.[9]

Lucknowi biryani[edit]

Lucknow and biryani have an almost symbiotic relationship. The Awadhi dum biryani is also known as pukka biryani as the rice and meat are generally partially cooked separately; then layered and cooked by the dum pukht method.

Bombay biryani[edit]

Bombay biryani originated in Mumbai, India. The ingredients are meat, rice, salt, onions, ginger and garlic paste, yogurt, all spices powder, chili powder, white cumin powder, coriander, potatoes, green chillies, yellow food colour, and Kewra.[10]

Calcutta biryani[edit]

Calcutta or Kolkata biryani evolved from the Lucknow style when Wajid Ali Shah, the last nawab of Awadh was exiled in 1856 to the Kolkata suburb of Metiaburj.[11] But he did not forget bringing his personal Chef with him as he was very particular about his food. Due to recession aloo (potato) had been used instead of meat. Later on that has become the specificity of Calcutta biryani, though meat is also served along with it. In addition, Calcutta biryani is much lighter on spices (Masala) than compared to other biryani's.[12] It primarily uses nutmeg, cinnamon, mace along with cloves and cardamom in the yoghurt based marinade for the meat which is cooked separately from rice. This combination of spices gives it a distinct flavour as compared to other styles of biryani. The rice is flavoured with ketaki water or rose water along with saffron to give it flavour and light yellowish colour.

Vaniyambadi biryani[edit]

Vaniyambadi biryani is a type of biriyani cooked in the town of Vaniyambadi in the Vellore district in the north-eastern part of Tamil Nadu, which has a high Muslim population. It was introduced by the Nawabs of Arcot who once ruled the place. It is purely a Mughal dish. Biryani was first created by the Mughals to serve food for the army. As it was very difficult to make rotis or parathas to cater to the need of thousands of army jawans, biryani was invented.

The Vaniyambadi biriyani is accompanied with 'dhalcha', a sour brinjal curry and 'pachadi' or raitha, which is sliced onions mixed with plain curd, tomato, chillies and salt. It has a distinctive aroma and is considered light on stomach and the usage of spice is moderate and curd is used as a gravy base. It also has a higher ratio of meat to rice.[13]

Bhatkali biryani[edit]

Bhatkali biryani is a special biryani savoured in all parts of coastal Karnataka and forms an integral part of Navayath cuisine. The Bhatkal's biryani evolved from the Bombay biryani which was further refined to give a distinct color taste and flavour.[citation needed] Bhatkali biryani can be of various kind, which include biryani made from either mutton, fish, chicken, or shrimp. The biryani is quite different from others across India in that the onions are used in larger proportions compared to other regions. The dish is cooked with the meat and onion based sauce being at the bottom of the cooking pot with a layers of rice on top, the rice and meat are mixed before serving. Local spices such as cardamom, cloves and cinnamon are used to get the distinct aroma. Served with Bhatakali kachumber or burhani(sweet curd raita). Bhatkali biryani is one of the most common wedding meals in Bhatkal and surrounding towns like Honavar, Murdeshwar, Manki, Shiroor, Byndoor, Gangolli, Kundapur all the way till Mangalore.

Memoni biryani[edit]

Memoni biryani was developed by the Memon ethnic group and is very similar to Sindhi biryani. It has variations though, among families, as do most biryanis, though the Bantva Memons community most commonly makes biryani in this form. Memoni biryani is made with lamb, yogurt, fried onions, and potatoes, and less tomatoes compared to Sindhi biryani. Memoni biryani also uses less food colouring compared to other biryanis, allowing the rich colours of the various meats, rice, and vegetables to blend without too much of the orange colouring.

Dindigul biryani[edit]

The Dindigul biryani originated from the Muslim populations, but the recipe was later modified by the Telugu speaking populations who started serving them in small restaurants nearby. Dindigul is a major commodity market for agricultural produce and a confluence of farmers from neighbouring districts to sell their produce to wholesale mandi’s. In recent years few Dindigul Biriyani chains have established their chains in most towns in Tamil Nadu as well as other major cities in India. Well known among them is the Dindigul Thalapakatti Biryani who own trademark rights to the specific name and have won legal battles to uphold their trademark rights.[14]

Beary biryani[edit]

Main article: Beary § Cuisine

The Beary Community is a small Muslim Community from Dakshina Kannada. The biryani is a ubiquitous feature of the Beary feast and no major celebration is complete without it from Eid to weddings. Beary biryani is light, less spicy and is easy to digest. Beef, chicken, mutton, fish and prawns are the usual meat used for the Beary biryani. Though Mutton is the first choice meat. The basmati rice is cooked separately and flavoured with ghee and spices like star anise, cinnamon, cardamon and cloves. The meat is cooked separately with onions, garlic, ginger, fresh coriander leaves. When the gravy thickens, the rice and the meat are layered, topped with caramelised onions, fresh mint leaves, roasted cashew nuts and sprinkled with ghee and saffron water. The biryani is then steamed. This cooking process ensures that the rice in the biryani is fluffy and light without requiring too much ghee or oils while the meaty juices are incorporated into the rice. Beary biryani is served with chicken kebabs and raita. It tastes best when left to sit for a few hours or overnight.

Palakkad Rawther biryani[edit]

The Palakkad Rawther biryani is a spicy dum biriyani prepared mainly by the Rawther Muslim community in the Palakkad district of Kerala State and some parts of Tamil Nadu. The variants include: lamb and mutton; chicken; beef and egg. This is accompanied by Kaichar, a type of gravy, thair chuttney (curd salad) and a dessert prepared from winter melon. There are lot men and women specialized in commercial cooking this Biriyani, especially in the Narikkuthi area of Palakkad. Nowadays, many small shops exclusively selling Biriyaniis (12–9 pm) have flourished in the town and its outskirts.

Bengalooru biriyani[edit]

Bengalooru biriyani is made of basmati rice cooked with coriander and mint leaves, which has less spices but enriched with greens. Bengalooru biriyani originated from Bangalore by an artisan Dr Shanthi.

Karachi beef biryani[edit]

Main article: Karachi beef biryani

Most biryani cuisines in Pakistan combine elements of Karachi biryani such as the common use of yogurt recipes.

Sindhi biryani[edit]

Main article: Sindhi biryani

Sindhi biryani is among the most popular form biryani, mainly prepared by Sindhi people.

Kalyani biryani[edit]

Kalyani biryani is a typical biryani from Hyderabad.[15] Also known as the 'poor man's Hyderabadi biryani, the Kalyani biryani is always made from small cubes of beef or buffalo meat. It doesn't have the same level of expensive ingredients and richness as the more famous Hyderabadi biryani, but at the same time, is quite tasty.

The meat is flavoured with ginger, garlic, turmeric, red chilly, cumin, coriander powder, lots of onion and tomato. It is first cooked as a thick curry and then cooked along with rice. Then given dum (the Indian method of steaming in a covered pot).

The Kalyani biryani is supposed to have originated in the Bidar during the rein of the Kalyani Nawabs, who migrated to Hyderabad after one of the nawabs, Ghazanfur Jang married into the Asaf Jahi family. The Kalyani biryani was served by the Kalyani nawabs to all of their subjects who came from Bidar to Hyderabad and stayed or visited their devdi or noble mansion.

This was the practice for many decades. But after Operation polo in which the Indian army took over Hyderabad State, the state of the nobles went into decline. Some of their illustrious cooks set up their own stalls and introduced the Kalyani biryani.[16] to the local populace of Hyderabad.

International styles and variations[edit]

British biryani[edit]

Biryani was brought in the UK by primarily Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants. There are several ways through which it is made in the UK. However most of the places it is served in the Sindhi biryani style. Spices are toned down a lot from any of the original versions. In most of the restaurants one has to ask to boost spices.

Burmese biryani[edit]

A dish of Burmese biryani (locally known as danpauk), as served at Kyet Shar

In Myanmar, biryani is known in Burmese as danpauk or danbauk, from Persian dum pukht. Featured ingredients include cashew nuts, yogurt, raisins and peas, chicken, cloves, cinnamon, saffron and bayleaf. In Burmese biryani, the chicken is cooked with the rice.[17] biryani is also eaten with a salad of sliced onions and cucumber. In Yangon, there are several restaurant chains that serve biryani exclusively. It is often served at religious ceremonies and luncheons. Biryani in Myanmar utilises a special rice grown domestically rather than basmati.

Middle East[edit]

While similar cooked meat and rice dishes (i.e. maklouba, kabsa) are common in the Middle East, biryani in the region likely has roots in the longstanding merchant and cultural ties between the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq with South Asia and Persia. Thus, biryani is more typically found in places like Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. In other parts of the middle east, for example Palestine, biryani was introduced and integrated into the local cuisine by Palestinian families who worked in the gulf (Kuwait in particular). For example, many Palestinian families prepare Biryani in the Iraqi or Kuwaiti style, as many thousands of Palestinians lived and worked in Kuwait (and to a lesser extent, Iraq) prior to the first Gulf War. When Palestinians left Kuwait, they brought back biryani recipes, and it became integrated into the indigenous cuisine. Biryani has also become popular in the Gulf countries due to the large populations of South Asian expatriates who work in the region. One popular form of middle eastern biryani is the Iraqi preparation (برياني: "biryani"), where the rice is usually saffron-based with either lamb or chicken being the meat or poultry of choice. Often, a sour/spicy tomato sauce is served on the side (maraq). Some variations also include vermicelli, fried onions, mixed nuts and raisins spread liberally over the rice.[11][12][18][19][20][21]

Thai biryani[edit]

Khao mok nuea ("beef biryani") at a Muslim-Thai restaurant in Chiang Mai

Called khao mok (lit. "covered with rice"; Thai: ข้าวหมก) in Thai cuisine, along with Thai massaman curry (Musulman Curry) and satay it is one of the most notable Muslim-Thai dishes. In Thailand a goat version is eaten almost exclusively by the Muslim population.

Sri Lankan biryani (Buryani)[edit]

Biryani was brought into Sri Lanka by the South Indian Muslims who were trading in the Northern part of Sri Lanka and in Colombo in the early 1900s. Hotel De Buhari in Mardana, Colombo which was run by Haji.Muthuwappa and A.M.Buhari of India, was a historic eatout to commercialize biryani in Sri Lanka in the 1930s and it was popularly called 'Buhari' Rice by the native Singhalese. As the founders of the food joint returned to India in the 1970s, the restaurant was taken over by the Sri Lankan Government and still serves the famous Buryanis. In Sri Lanka they call it Buryani, a colloquial word which generated from Buhari Biryani. In many cases, Sri Lankan biryani is much spicier than most Indian varieties. Side dishes may include Acchar, Malay Pickle, cashew curry and Ground Mint Sambol.

One form of biryani uses string hoppers as a substitute for rice and is sometimes served with scrambled eggs or vegetables.

Iranian beriani[edit]

Biryani of Isfahan

During the Safavid dynasty, a dish called Berian Polo (Nastaliq script: بریان پلو) was made with lamb or chicken, marinated overnight – with yogurt, herbs, spices, dried fruits like raisins, prunes or pomegranate seeds – and later cooked in a tannour oven. It was then served with steamed rice.[22]

In its more original form, in some cities the dish is known as dam pokht/dam-pokhtak. The compound in Persian means "steam-cooked"—a reference to the steamed rice that forms the basis of the dish. This name is still in common use in Iran alongside "beriani". In Southeast Asian countries such as Burma/Myanmar, this older, general Persian term is in common use, as danpauk.

In the central Iranian city of Isfahan, Berian is made with cooked mutton or lamb, which is stewed and minced separately, and then grilled in special small round shallow pans in an oven or over a fire. The meat is generally served with powdered cinnamon in a local bread, usually "nan-e taftoun", but also occasionally "nan-e sangak".

Malaysia and Singapore[edit]

Biryani dishes were introduced to Malaysia and Singapore by the Indian Muslim as well as the Arab diaspora. Biryani Bukhara is a local adaptation of Buhari Biryani, originating from Tamil Nadu, India. Another biryani variation called Nasi Beriani Gam is an adaptation of the Indian Dum Biryani. Nasi Minyak, a dish commonly served at Malay weddings in Malaysia, Singapore and Sumatra, is also sometimes referred to as Nasi Beriani. However, this is actually a variation of the Indian ghee rice. Just as with the Indian version, the rice in Nasi Minyak is cooked separately from the meat. As such, Nasi Minyak is generally not considered a Biryani by the Indian diaspora in Malaysia or Singapore. However, as with Biryani, Nasi Minyak is usually served with acar as condiment. Malaysian/Singaporean Nasi Minyak is typically served with chicken or beef Rendang, a decidedly Malay take on dry spicy Indian meat curries.

Filipino dish[edit]

There's a version of biryani in the Philippines Pampanga region on the northern island of Luzon and in the predominantly Muslim areas of the southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. The Kapampangan Nasing Biringyi is related to the Malay Nasi Beriani, see Kapampangan cuisine.

In the southern island of Mindanao, biryani style rice dishes are served during big celebrations.

Mauritian biryani[edit]

The Mauritian biryani is a version of the Hyderabadi Dum (Kachii) biryani and strictly conforms to the recipe requirement such as using a sealed copper degg, gravy will consist of chicken or meat mixed with garlic/ginger, yogurt, mint, cilantro, fenugreek, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves etc. The difference with the Dum biryani is that the Mauritians add fried potatoes and roasted cumin to the gravy in. This replaces the Kashmiri chilli generally used in the Hyderabadi version. The rice is flavoured with saffron, cardamom, cinnamon and whole cumin. Cooking is slow and meticulous as with the Hyderabadi recipe.

Nasi kebuli[edit]

Nasi kebuli is an Indonesian spicy steamed rice dish cooked in goat broth, milk and ghee. Nasi kebuli is descended from Kabuli Palaw which is an Afghani rice dish, similar to biryani served on the South Asia.[23][24]

See also[edit]

Other mixed rice dishes[edit]


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  16. ^ History of the Kalyani biryani.
  17. ^ Pham, Mai. "Burmese chicken biryani differs from its – Media (5 of 5) The Burmese Way / A visit to the land of". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  18. ^ Where did Briyani, the Indian rice dish originate from?. FoodAQ. Retrieved on 2012-12-28.
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  21. ^ Retrieved on 2012-12-28.
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External links[edit]