Hyderabad And Its Years Old Connection With Biryani
Image Credit: Shutterstock | Biryani is a meat-lover's dream come true

Have you ever wondered, if there was, what could be the capital of Biryani? Yes, you thought it right. It could be no other place than Hyderabad. Hyderabad is a place where people celebrate Biryani. From homes to restaurants, from marriages to festivals, Biryani is everywhere. Not only in Hyderabad, but the Hyderabadi Biryani is much famous in the entire world. Let’s have a detailed look into the existence of Hyderabadi Biryani.

If local people in Hyderabad are to be believed, the Khansamas (chefs) in the Mughal Darbars played with the Mughal spices with a little touch of spices from South India. This is why the Hyderabadi Biryani is spicier. Besides, the cooking style of Hyderabadi Biryani also makes it different from other Biryanis.

As stated by the expert of Hyderabad Cuisine, Nawab Mahboob Alam Khan Sahab, four ingredients without which the Hyderabadi Biryani is incomplete are raw mutton, good quality rice, cardamom, and of course a lot of Ghee.

 It is believed that Mughal chefs created almost 50 different versions that used fish, shrimp, quail, deer, and even hare meat. The unique cooking style of Hyderabadi Biryani could be traced back to Persia. Two of Hyderabad’s main Biryani specialties are Sofiyani Biryani and Zafrani Biryani.

Sofiyani Biryani is white in colour as it has neither Kesar nor red chili but milk and almond paste. It was actually invented in the kitchen of Nizam and is named so because of its association with nobility. On the other hand, the Zafrani Biryani has flavours from central Asia like Zafraan and red chili, making it colourful. Typically, the Zafrani Biryani signifies the flavours of North India and is cooked in Dawats and festivals.

Method of cooking Hyderabadi Biryani

Hyderabad is quite synonymous with Biryani. Isn’t it? The thing that essentially makes Hyderabadi Biryani ‘Hyderabadi’ is its distinct style of preparation. Raw mutton is marinated in spices, covered with layers of perfectly cooked rice, and sealed with Dum to let it cook with love.


  •       Add 2/3 cup of curd, ¾ teaspoon salt, 1 to 1½ teaspoon red chili powder, 1 to 1½ biryani masala, ¼ teaspoon turmeric, 1¼ teaspoon of ginger garlic paste, 2 green chilies, and ½ teaspoon of cardamom powder in a bowl.
  •        Add one tablespoon of lemon juice.
  •        Mix all of them. Taste to check.
  •        Add the raw mutton or chicken into the paste and marinate. 
  •        Cover the bowl and allow it to sit overnight in the fridge or at least for two hours.
  •        Slice one large onion into thin pieces and separate its layers.
  •       Take a pan, add Ghee, and sliced Onions. Fry them until crisp and aromatic.
  •       Remove the pan when the Onions are brown.
  •       Soak a large pinch of saffron in 3 tablespoons of hot milk. Keep it for some time.
  •       Wash good quality Basmati Rice three to four times.
  •       Pour fresh water into the Rice and keep it socked for 30 to 40 mins.
  •       Drain aside the rice and set this aside.
  •        Add all the whole spices and 1½ teaspoon salt to a large pot of boiling water.
  •       Add one 1teaspoon oil and stir.
  •       Add soaked Basmati Rice and cook it on a medium flame until the rice is ¾ cooked. The rice needs to be slightly undercooked.
  •      Drain the rice in a colander.
  •       Add the Mutton or Chicken marinade into a heavy bottom pot (you can use the one used for frying onions).
  •       Sprinkle half of the fried Onions to form a uniform layer followed by a layer of slightly undercooked rice.
  •       Add a few more fried onions while retaining some for later.
  •       Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of mint and coriander powder. Also sprinkle some Biryani masala.
  •       Layer the rest of the rice again in the pot.
  •       Add another layer of rice followed by the remaining fried onions, mint, and coriander powder. Also, add 2 to 4 pinches of Biryani Masala.
  •       Pour Saffron milk.
  •       In the end, pour two tablespoons of Ghee.

Dum Cook Method

  • You can use foil to seal the rim completely. Traditionally, make a dough and use it to cover the rim. Place a heavy lid.
  • Place an old Tawa or griddle on the gas stove. Keep the flame on Medium High and cook the Biryani for 15 to 20 mins.
  • Lower the flame and cook for another 15 mins. Turn off the flame and keep it like that for another 15 to 20 mins.
  • Check the moisture. There should be no access moisture in the Biryani. If there is, cover back the rice and cook until desired.
  • Serve Hyderabadi Rice with Raita.

Some handy tips:

  •       Make sure that the curd used in the marinade is not sour. If the curd is even slightly sour, skip adding lemon juice.
  •       If the mutton or chicken is marinated for just two hours, make sure to cut the pieces to medium and not very large.
  •       Do not over-fry the Onions as they turn bitter quickly.
  •       Use the best quality premium Basmati rice.
  •       If you don’t like the bite of whole spices. You can warp the spices in a muslin cloth, make a knot and keep it in the water.
  •       Do not use a non-stick or Dosa Tawa. The flame has to reach across the diameter of the pan.

Happy cooking!!