Food & Culture

A Short History of Biryani

Under Mughal rule, cuisine was distilled to perfection and refined into an art form. Biryani is one such dish that was polished in the royal kitchens of the Mughal Emperors. The word biryanicomes from the Persian birian. It is basically a dish of rice and meat, not unlike the pilaf. This is no coincidence, because the wordbiryani was used interchangeably with pilaf as late as the sixteenth century.

What we do know for sure is that as a cuisine, the biryani or pilaf was refined during the reign of the Mughals. Flavours were enhanced using exotic spices. The curry was made rich and smooth with cream and yogurt. Imperial cooks threw in spices like cloves, cinnamon and cardamom, and nuts such as cashews and almonds. The result was a fragrant, heady and flavourful dish fit for royalty. Till today, biryani is one of the cornerstones of Mughlai cuisine.

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Read more about the food culture of the Mughal Empire.