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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

History of Biryani ...

Everybody loves biryani and relishes the taste....and biryani comes in different types. Biryani has a history and many legends that made the biryani we know of today. Biryani is a rice dish and its variants are quite common in the cuisine of India and neighbouring countries. The name is derived from the Farsi word birian.

History has mention of a type of cooking before 700 AD, where people would bury an earthen pot full of meat, rice and spices in a pit, eventually the pot was dug up and preparation consumed. This style of cooking was prevalent in parts of Persia and Northern Africa among the Nomads. When these nomads moved North into Souther-Europe and eventually West Asian they influenced the local cuisine. There is mention of biryani in Swahili cuisine showing influences from both Arabia and India around 750 AD.

According to the gastronomical Medieval History, the first people to cook biryani were gypsies from Spain who got the idea from Moors. The Moors were originally Muslims from North Africa who invaded Iberian peninsula early in the eighth century and surged deep into France but turned back by Charles Martel at the battle of Tours in 732, the Muslims retreated across the Pyrenees, firmly entrenching themselves in what is now Spain.

The Moors introduced rice in this Islamic Spain which was among the most civilised places on the planet-renowned for its scientists, philosophers, artists, architects, poets, musicians and culinarists.

The Gypsies who converted into Islam after their marriages with descendant Moors cooked their rice dishes with dried saffron flowers. In Valencia where it was populated with Gypsies, the dish was named 'Paella a la Valencia'. The method of cooking 'Paella' is similar to biryani but instead of using a dish they use a pan which is called 'Paella'.

Biryani arrived in North India from Persia via Afghanistan, and in South India by the Arab traders via the Arabian Sea to Calicut, which had maritime trade with West Asia. With the Mughals ruling India in the recent past biryani spread to the Nizam's kitchens in Hyderabad, as it did to Awadh (Lucknow) and Calcutta.

The blending of Mughlai and Andhra cuisines in the kitchens of the Nizam, ruler of the historic Hyderabad State, resulted in the creation of Hyderabadi Biryani. The biryani also spread to Mysore through Tipu Sultan's rule. It was a royal dish of the nawabs and nizams.

Hindus working as bookkeepers in the royal's office were vegetarian and influence is seen in the creation of the Tahiri Biryani which is commonly known as Vegetarian Biryani.