Kachchi Biryani: Origin & Revival Of This Lost Delicacy

Kacchi biryani is a traditional and aromatic rice dish that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Unlike other biryanis, kachchi biryani is prepared by layering raw marinated meat with partially cooked rice and then slow-cooking in a sealed pot, allowing the flavours to meld together. This unique cooking technique creates a rich and flavourful dish with tender meat and fragrant rice. Once a celebrated delicacy, kachchi biryani's popularity waned over time, making it a lost gem. However, recent efforts to revive this culinary masterpiece have brought it back into the limelight, attracting food enthusiasts eager to rediscover its unparalleled taste.

Tracing the origins of kachchi biryani is a complex task, as there are various theories and historical accounts associated with its origin. It is widely believed that  kachchi biryani originated in the Indian subcontinent, specifically in the region of Bengal. The dish is said to have been influenced by the culinary traditions of the Mughals, who ruled over large parts of the Indian subcontinent during the 16th and 17th centuries.

According to one account, Kachchi Biryani was created during the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh in present-day Uttar Pradesh, India. The Nawab's chefs developed this biryani style by layering raw meat with partially cooked rice and slow-cooking it, resulting in a flavorful and tender dish. Another legend suggests that Kachchi Biryani was introduced in Bengal during the rule of Murshid Quli Khan, the first Nawab of Bengal, in the 18th century. The dish gained popularity in the region and became a significant part of Bengali cuisine.

While these historical accounts and legends offer insights into the origin of Kachchi Biryani, it's important to note that the exact details and historical evidence may vary. Nevertheless, the dish has endured through generations and continues to be cherished as a culinary masterpiece.

Regional Variations

Kachchi Biryani exhibits regional variations across different parts of the Indian subcontinent and beyond, each with its own unique flavours and cooking techniques. Here are some notable variations:

1. Kolkata Biryani: The Kolkata or Calcutta Biryani is a famous variation from West Bengal. It features the use of fragrant rice, typically Basmati, mixed with meat (such as chicken or mutton), potatoes, and a blend of spices. It has a subtle aroma and is typically lighter on spices compared to other biryani styles.

2. Hyderabadi Biryani: Hailing from the city of Hyderabad in South India, Hyderabadi Biryani is known for its rich and flavorful taste. It is prepared with basmati rice, meat (usually chicken or mutton), and a blend of aromatic spices. It can be further categorised into two types: the Kacchi Biryani (raw meat cooked with rice) and the Pakki Biryani (cooked meat layered with partially cooked rice).

3. Lucknowi Biryani: Also known as Awadhi Biryani, this style originates from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. It is characterised by the use of fragrant Basmati rice, meat (typically mutton), and a blend of spices such as saffron, cloves, and cardamom. It is cooked in the dum pukht style, where the pot is sealed to trap the flavours and aromas.

4. Sindhi Biryani: Originating from the Sindh region in Pakistan, Sindhi Biryani is known for its distinct flavours. It combines basmati rice with meat (commonly beef or mutton), yoghurt, and a medley of spices, including cumin, coriander, and cloves. It often incorporates potatoes and is garnished with fried onions and fresh coriander.

5 Tips To Make The Perfect Kachchi Biriyani

Here are five tips to help you make the perfect Kachchi Biryani:

1. Choose the Right Rice: Selecting the right type of rice is crucial for a flavorful biryani. Basmati rice is the preferred choice for its long grains and aromatic qualities. Rinse the rice thoroughly to remove excess starch before cooking.

2. Marinate the Meat: Marinating the meat in a blend of spices and yoghurt is essential for tenderising and infusing it with flavours. Allow the meat to marinate for at least a few hours or overnight for optimal results.

3. Layering Technique: The layering technique is key to achieving a well-cooked biryani. Start with a layer of partially cooked rice at the bottom of the pot, followed by the marinated meat and its juices. Repeat the layering process until all the ingredients are used, ensuring the topmost layer is rice.

4. Use The Dum Cooking Method: Dum cooking involves sealing the pot with dough or a tight-fitting lid to trap the steam and flavours. Cook the biryani on low heat, allowing the rice and meat to cook slowly and absorb all the aromatic flavours.

5. Garnish and Resting Time: Garnish the biryani with fried onions, saffron-infused milk, and chopped herbs like cilantro and mint to enhance its visual appeal and taste. After cooking, allow the biryani to rest for a few minutes before serving. This resting period allows the flavours to meld together and results in a more delicious biryani.

Recipe For Kachchi Biriyani

                                               Video Credits: Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana


- 500 grammes of basmati rice

- 1 kg of meat (chicken, mutton, or beef), cut into pieces

- 2 cups of yoghurt

- 4 medium-sized onions, thinly sliced

- 4 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil

- 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste

- 2 teaspoons of red chilli powder

- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

- 1 teaspoon biryani masala powder

- 1 teaspoon garam masala powder

- 1 teaspoon cumin powder

- 1 teaspoon coriander powder

- A pinch of saffron strands (optional)

- 1/4 cup warm milk

- Fresh coriander leaves and mint leaves for garnishing

- Salt to taste

- Water for cooking

For Marination:

- 1 cup of yoghurt

- 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste

- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

- 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder

- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder

- Salt to taste


1. Wash the basmati rice thoroughly and soak it in water for 30 minutes. Drain the water and set it aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine the meat with all the ingredients listed under marination. Mix well, ensuring that the meat is coated evenly. Cover and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

3. In a deep pan, heat the ghee or vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and sauté until golden brown and caramelised. Remove half of the fried onions and set them aside for garnishing.

4. To the remaining onions in the pan, add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute until fragrant.

5. Add the marinated meat to the pan and cook on medium heat until it is browned and partially cooked. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking.

6. In a separate large pot, bring water to a boil. Add salt and the soaked and drained basmati rice. Cook the rice until it is 70% cooked (slightly undercooked). Drain the rice and set it aside.

7. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

8. In a small bowl, dissolve the saffron strands (if using) in warm milk and set aside for a few minutes.

9. Take a heavy-bottomed, oven-safe pot or deep baking dish. Begin layering by spreading a layer of the partially cooked rice at the bottom.

10. Next, add a layer of the partially cooked marinated meat on top of the rice. Repeat the layers of rice and meat, ending with a layer of rice on top.

11. Pour the saffron-infused milk evenly over the top layer of rice. Drizzle some ghee or vegetable oil on top as well.

12. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid or seal it with aluminium foil, ensuring that no steam can escape. Place the pot in the preheated oven and bake for about 30–40 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked and the flavours have melded together.

13. Once done, remove the pot from the oven and let it rest for 10–15 minutes.

14. Garnish the biryani with the reserved fried onions, fresh coriander leaves, and mint leaves.

15. Serve the Kachchi Biryani hot, ensuring to scoop from the bottom to get the layers of rice and meat.

Enjoy the flavourful and aromatic Kachchi Biryani with raita (yoghurt sauce) or salan (spicy curry) of your choice.