Monday, October 27, 2008

What are Biryani, Pulao and Tehri

Chicken Biryani
Badiyon Ka Pulao
Aloo, Matar, Gobhi Ki Tehri

Biryani, Pulao and Tehri, belong to a family of primarily South Asian rice dishes made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and meat/vegetables. Since their method of preparation is different, their outcome is also different.

What is Biryani?
Biryani is primarily a rice dish, made with meat/vegetables, spices and rice (usually basmati). Biryani originated in Persia and might have taken couple of different routes to arrive in India.

Biryani name is derived from the Persian word 'Birian'. In Persian, Birian means 'Fried before Cooking'. To make Biryani, mutton is fried in ghee and par-cooked (Cooked half way). Separately, the Rice is fried in Ghee, and par-cooked (Cooked half way). The rice and meat are layered in a cookware called Handi.

Traditional Biryani:
In the olden days, rice was fried (without washing) in Ghee (Clarified butter). It did two things: it gave rice a nutty flavor and secondly it burned the outside starch layer gelatinizing it.

After the rice is stir-fried, it is boiled in water with spices until half cooked. The meat is marinated in a paste of Papaya, with whole-milk yogurt and spices. Thereafter, the meat may be cooked.The rice and meat are layered in an earthen pot called Handi, with bottom and top layer always of rice. An interlayer of some condiments may be introduced between meat and the rice. The spices and condiments used in biryani may include, but are not limited to, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander and mint leaves, apart from ghee, ginger, onion, garlic and yoghurt. The premium varieties include Screwpine (kewara) essence, saffron and rose water may be added to give flowery and herbal aroma. The Handi is sealed and put on the coal embers to cook.

For a non-vegetarian biryani, the main ingredient that accompanies spices is the meat (or beef), chicken, goat, lamb or shrimp. Vegetable Biryani is also equally popular.

The biryani dish is served with Dahi Chutney or Raita, Korma, Curry or a sour dish.

Types of Biryani
Over 30 different types of Biryani have evolved with time.

Lucknow Biryani:
Lucknow Biryani is also called Awadh Biryani. Lucknow Biryani is the footprint of the Muslims of the Moghul Empire left on the eastern part of India. Lucknow Biryani is a form of ‘Pukki Biryani’. Pukki means 'cooked'. Both the meat and rice are cooked separately and then layered and baked. The process also lives up to the name Biryani in Persian meaning 'fry before cooking'.

Basically, it has three steps:

First, the meat is seared in ghee and cooked in water with warm aromatic spices until meat is tender. The meat broth is drained out.

Second, the rice is lightly fried in Ghee and cooked in the meat broth from the previous step.

Third, cooked meat and cooked rice are layered in a Handi. Sweet flavors are added. The Handi is sealed and cooked over low heat. The result is a perfectly cooked meat, rice, and a homogenous flavor of aromatic meat broth, aromatic spices and sweet flavors.

Hyderabad Biryani:
Hyderabadi Biryani is one of the most popular versions of non-vegetarian types, especially in India and the Middle East. The Nizam’s kitchen boasted of 49 kinds, which included biryani made from fish, quill, shrimp, deer and hare.

This is called ‘
Kutchi Biryani’. Kutchi means ‘raw’. The process does not adhere to the name Biryani in Persian meaning 'fry before cooking'. Neither the meat, nor the rice is fried before cooking. The meat is marinated in a mixture of spices for a few hours. Meat and the meat marinade are put in Handi. The rice is mixed with spiced yogurt. The 'rice and yogurt mixture' is put on top of the meat. The Handi is sealed and cooked over low heat. Eventually, the meat and rice are Dum cooked.

Pukki Biryani is the common type of hyderabadi biryani prepared at homes in India.

The result is very different from Lucknow Biryani. The Lucknow Biryani has a homogenous meat flavor throughout the Biryani while, the Rice in Hyderabad Biryani has more of a yogurt flavor than the meat flavor.

In theory, Hyderabad Biryani is simple to make, but requires a lot of experience. The variables are complicated such as amounts, moisture of yogurt mixture and marinate, and cut of meats. All the variables have to be carefully balanced so everything will cook together and come out perfectly.

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Sindhi Biryani:
The Sindhi variant of biryani is very popular in Pakistani cuisine. In the most popular version of Sindhi Biryani, meat is fried with potatoes, tomatoes and pulp of apricots and this meat mix is then layered with rice.

Malabar Biryani:
Malabar chicken biryani is very popular in Kerala. For Calicut Biryani, the Handi is placed on the embers produced by coconut shell. The seal is broken only when ready to serve.

Bombay Biryani:
Bombay Biryani also includes potatoes and tomatoes like Sindhi Biryani.

Iran, this dish is made in Isfahan with baked lung and mutton that is minced and then cooked in a special small pan over the fire. The food is generally eaten with a type of bread, "nan-e taftton".
Myanmar, Biryani is known as Danpauk. Locally grown rice is used for the preparation. Thai Muslims prepare it with local ingredients.


What is Pulao?
Pulao also called Pilaf, is a dish in which a grain, such as rice or cracked wheat, is browned in oil, and then cooked in a seasoned broth. Rice and meat/vegetables are not layered while cooking. It is of Persian origin.

Depending on the local cuisine, it may also contain a variety of meat and vegetables. Pulao and similar dishes are common to Middle Eastern, Central, South Asian, Latin American and Caribbean cuisine.

Traditional Pulao:
Long grain rice is soaked in water. In the meanwhile, the meat fried in Ghee and cooked with aromatic spices in a plenty of water. After the meat is cooked, plenty of broth is left. More water and pre-soaked rice are added. It is boiled and heat turned down to simmer. The rice is basically cooked in meat broth. Nuts like Almonds, Cashews, dried fruits like raisins or apricots may be added. The aromatic spices especially Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves and Bay leaves are used.

For vegetarians, plain water and aromatic spices are used to cook Vegetables and Rice together. Generally, dried fruits and fried nuts are added. In North India, normally Pulao refers to a Vegetarian Pulao.

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Tehri is the name given to the vegetarian version of the rice dish and is very popular in North Indian and Pakistani homes.

Tehri was made with Potatoes and Rice but other vegetables may be added. The dish is Dum-baked in sealed Handi. A garnish layer is added to the top. Tehri is made to taste better with accompaniments such as Raita (yogurt ), Achar (pickle) and Papad.

Bangladesh, Tehri refers to Biryani prepared by adding the meat to the rice, as opposed to traditional Biryani where the rice is added to the meat.

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Difference between Biryani, Pulao and Tehri:

In Biryani, boath the meat/vegetables and rice are cooked separately and then they are layered and baked during cooking. The process also lives up to the name Biryani in Persian meaning 'fry before cooking'.

In Pulao, the 'meat/vegetables and rice are stirred' before cooking and both are cooked together without any layer formation.

Tehri is a vegetarian dish prepared by cooking rice with potatoes. Other vegetables may also be added to it. It is common in Uttar Pradesh, India.


Aazia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nidhi Raizada said...

Thanks for the information....Aazia

Digital Unload said...

Nidhi and Aazia, this is absolutely amazing information to me. I am a big DIE HARD fan of Biryani and Pulao and I can eat it anytime during the day. I cook a lot and I make Biryani all the time but I cheat by using Shaan masala for flavoring. I use the Kacchi Biryani method and it does turn out really good but I am trying to learn and master this by using home made masalas. Nidhi, I was surprised to learn that there are about 30 styles of Biryani and I just hope I can master few of them. I have never had Tehri (Tehari) so that is something I will look forward to. My ultimate goal is to open a restaurant in US that primarily serves Biryani :). Thank you Nidhi for writing this and all that information and thank you Aazia for you contribution. Long Live Biryani :).

Nidhi Raizada said...

All the Best for the restaurant bhs87....

Faddy said...

Great information.

Thank you Nidhi

Richa said...

Nidhi, very informative! These days when anyone can publish whatever they want on the blogs, it is nice to come across someone who has researched and tried to present authentic facts and recipes.

Anonymous said...

Learnt so many things about biriyanis! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.. :)

Unknown said...

This is so useful! Finally a source to explain the difference between lucknow biryani n Hyderabadi n why the former is more delicious. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Nidhi... It was informative.

yad-al-jauza said...

What is that tehri or rice dal mix dish where all vegetables are fried before adding to broth