Ambur Biryani: This South Indian Biryani Packs A Nawabi Legacy
Image Credit: Pexels

It is common knowledge that the Mughals brought Biryani to India and it was in their kitchens that Biryani adopted a desi garb with the addition of local spices and herbs, but the way Biryani traveled across the country and was adapted by different regions goes to show how pliable the dish really is, always meant to impress- in one avatar or the other. While in Kolkata it saw the addition of boiled eggs and potatoes under exiled King Wajid Shah’s rule, in the Nizami Hyderabad, it became much more spicy and edgy.  The Hyderabadi Biryani may have become a global phenomenon now, but there are plenty of Biryanis, within South India itself, that are worthy of the fame of the same scale, like the Ambur Biryani.  

What Is Ambur Biryani?

Ambur is a small town located in the Tirapattur district of Tamil Nadu, known for its exquisite leather products. It was once a territory of the Nawab of Arcot. The Nawabs were known for their indulgent spreads, the delicacies were inextricably interwoven with many local and foreign influences. Ambur Biryani is also sometimes referred to as the Arcot Biryani by many, and there is a reason for that. It is said that a cook named Hasin Baig fine-tuned this biryani in the royal kitchens of Arcot Nawabs. He made the biryani so popular, that he also took the recipe with himself and set a shop in his hometown Ambur. The modest shop would sell out the biryani in no time, with years, the biryani shop became a landmark in itself. People would come in huge numbers to have a taste of Ambur Star Biryani, now being helmed by the descendants of Baig. 

What Makes Ambur Biryani So Unique

What makes this Biryani so special is the celebration of local ingredients while keeping the essence of Biryani alive. It is cooked in traditional dum style, in a covered vessel. The rice is cooked separately and meat is cooked with masalas before it is put on ‘dum’ and slow-cooked. What is also fascinating here is the choice of rice. Most biryanis that you must have had are made of long-grain basmati rice. Many chefs insist upon it too, the longer the grain, the lesser the starch content for the rice to stick together. However, in Ambur, people have no qualms in using the local ‘seeraga samba rice’. It is short-grained, and a household favourite. In the dum process, the spices and rice make a wholesome mixture, making this biryani and ultimate comfort food. Yes, of course, many do use basmati to make Ambur Biryani too, and the choice ultimately rests upon you. Much like the Hyderabadi Biryani, Ambur Biryani is also spicy, is eaten with a tangy and hot eggplant-based accompaniment called Kathirikai Pachadi, just how bagara baingan is paired with its Hyderabadi counterpart.  

Coming to the meat, again, the choice is yours, you can use chicken or mutton, but do make sure that the meat is well marinated. Here is the recipe of Ambur chicken biryani you must try soon.