Two Royal Bhopali Cuisine Dishes With Unique Flavours
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Bhopal is known as the city of lakes and has an incredible heritage tied to not only industrial India but also Mughal history. As you walk through the alleys of old Bhopal even today, you can see a maze of tight lanes and crowded markets that hide centuries of history. But the real heart of the city is its food, a perfect blend of Nawabs and Mughals telling the tale of its origin, while modern settlers have also managed to add their own twist.  

Mutton Biryani and Yakhni Pulao 

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Mutton biryani is a signature dish of the Bhopali cuisine that originated in the royal Nawabi kitchens. It is a layered rice dish made with spice, rice, yoghurt and meat. The rice and meat are cooked separately before being layered and cooked together. The bottom layer consists of perfectly cooked long grain rice, often basmati rice, flavored with whole spices like cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and cardamom. The top layer consists of succulent bone-in mutton pieces in a thick gravy.  

The mutton is marinated overnight with ginger, garlic, onions, yogurt and spices like chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala before being cooked till tender. Bhopali Biryani is different from other biryanis as it does not consist of any food coloring and its potatoes are also not added in the recipe.  

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Whereas Yakhni pulao is also a signature dish originating in the royal Nawabi kitchens, it is not a regular pulao. Yakhni pulao gets its flavour from the adding of yakhni stock. Yakhni is a light chicken or mutton broth that lends the pulao a lovely aroma and taste, and is often flavoured with yoghurt. Long-grained basmati rice is cooked in this fragrant stock along with whole spices like black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves and cumin. Saffron is added for its beautiful orange-yellow color and intense flavor. The rice is partly cooked in the yakhni stock and layered alternately with meat in a handi (cooking pot). It is then cooked further on dum which helps the flavors mingle beautifully. 

Over the years, the classic yakhni pulao has become a signature dish of Bhopali cuisine, depicting the culinary heritage of its royal kitchen.  

Difference Between These Bhopali Rice Dishes 

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At first Mutton biryani and yakhni pulao may seem similar, but when you take a closer look, you will see the difference in their ingredients. Cooking methods, aroma, and texture.  

Biryani combines meat and rice infused with spices, Saffron is the main ingredient that provides the yellow hue to this birynai, whereas yakhmi pulao features meat slowly cooked in a broth with potatoes and rice are added later.  

Biryani uses dum pukht - meat and rice in layers, sealed and cooked slowly to blend flavors. Yakhni pulao involves slow-cooking meat until tender before adding spices, potatoes and rice. Very different techniques. 

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A perfectly cooked biryani fills the air with an irresistible aroma of ghee, spices and meat. Each mouthful delivers a complex medley of flavors. Yakhni pulao is all about the scent of stewed meat and spices like nutmeg and mace. Its hearty gravy seeps into the rice, center stage.