This isn’t just rice with some masala and garnishes. This is an emotion. This is the regal biryani. While the word “biryani” itself is said to be from the Persian “birian,” meaning “fried before cooking,” and “birinj,” meaning rice, the dish has numerous origins. One of the most popular stories can be traced back to the kitchen of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Shah Jahan who was the fifth Mughal emperor of India. When she visited the army barracks and saw the soldiers looking weak and undernourished, she asked the chef to make a dish with meat and rice for their balanced nutrition. And this very dish was spiced up and cooked over a wood fire.
In Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, Lizzie Collingham writes that the modern-day biryani came from the Mughal empire’s royal kitchens, while historian Pushpesh Pant writes that biryani, which evolved in India, travelled with pilgrims and soldiers to Deccan in south India. Pratibha Karan in Biryani also writes that biryani originated from south India when varieties of pilaf were brought in by Arab traders.
Wherever the biryani came from, India has certainly embraced it. The subcontinent celebrates a wide variety of biryanis, with almost every state having its very own style and instilling a very deep passion for it in its people. And these very people have brought several such variations here, for the eaters of London.Read More