The mighty Internet is flooded with memes and tweets pleading people to stop ordering anything minutely sounding like ”Veg Biryani” – because according to the common sense of the m-asses there is nothing like VEG Biryani. There is Veg. Pulao, but not Biryani.
Henceforth, all the vegetarians out there, this is how your peace-loving act will be rewarded – You are never getting to taste heaven.
Ahem, OR VEGETABLES.
This royal delicacy found its place in the royal kitchens of the Mughals back in 1800 in the form of Chicken Dum Biryani. Through the ages and shifting territorial dynamics, the exotic recipe traveled down the South to Nizams of Hyderabad becoming Hyderabadi Biryani. It’s to be noted that in Hyderabad’s rustic kitchen itself, Biryani discovered 49 varieties to be cooked into – Hyderabadi Biryani, Awadhi Biryani, Thalassery Biryani, Vaniyambadi Biriyani, Bhatkali biryani, Memoni biryani, Dindigul biryani, Kacchi biryani to just name a few.
But this was not it. Biryani continued charming the royals and the nomads alike throughout the country. In 1856, following his exile to Calcutta, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah brought Lucknow’s Awadhi Biryani to present day Kolkatta, evolving it into a Calcutta Biryani. Similarly, Hyderabadi Biryani evolved into Mysore Biryani in Mysore, Sindhi biryani in Sindh, Thalassery Biryani in Kerala, Kutchni Biryani in Kutch of Gujarat and so on.
Now note this down. The Hindu population prior to the Mughals was still very much vegetarian. Keeping up with the evolving Biryani tale, the Hindu book-keepers of the Nizams and Nawabs adapted this exotic dish as ”Tahiri Biryani” or vegetable biryani – giving way to just another increasing variety of Biryani.
Yes, still very much a BIRYANI.
It’s to be understood that Biryani is not a standardized dish like that of its western European counterparts. Just like most of the South East Asian country’s recipes, it changes its taste, aroma, and authenticity to wherever it travels. This is because in a diverse country like India, the ingredients as well as the alchemy is as diverse. There’s no one particular dish in India which will taste exactly the same in different parts of the country. A white sauce spaghetti would taste the same; not a Biryani.
So here it is:
Dum literally means to breathe in and hence the technique locks in the aroma of the spices and releases maximum flavor.
”A very heavy bottomed pot is used for cooking in which the food is tightly sealed with a “Purdah” also known as veil which is a simple dough made of water and flour used to seal the pot with the lid and the food is cooked on slow fire. This process of slow cooking releases maximum flavor and aroma.”
According to a Biryani gastronomic and his seasoned chefs, “if you cook a dish perfectly side-by-side in its veg, chicken and mutton variants, the vegetarian one would always flourish over the chicken and the chicken over the mutton. Why? Because the fattier the meat, the more it takes away from the bounce and spark of the entire dish.”
So as we learn from these facts, Biryani is no one standardized dish that we vegetarians are trying to dupe. From a traditional recipe, we all have evolved our different varieties of Biryani; Veg.Biryani being one of them – just like your mutton biryani!
And so, here I rest my case hoping that I would be given a clean slate to let my taste buds lust for Veg. Biryani from hereon.
Now, if you will please excuse me, may I?