Authentic Hyderabadi Biryani

By: B. K. Vijay

Authentic Hyderabadi Biryani! Looking for some but confused! You are not alone.  Many restaurants both in Hyderabad and outside (within India and abroad) claim to serve authentic Hyderabadi Biryani.  However, just naming the dish or claiming it to be the original recipe does not make it authentic.

You can determine if a restaurant is serving authentic Hyderabadi Biryani by checking how it is served, finding how it is cooked and by the characteristics of the restaurant.

Here is what you should get with an authentic Biryani. An authentic Hyderabadi biryani  comes with Mirchi ka Saalan (Green Chili in brown gravy),  dahi chutney (curd & onions)  and onion salad with some lime pieces.  If any restaurant does not provide you all of these at no additional cost – you can just walk away.  These are absolutely the basic things that make the ‘Biryani’ meal.  If any one item is missing it is like serving a Pizza without the dough.

Secondly, the only authentic Biryani is the Dum ka Biryani .  It means the Rice and the meat are cooked together in steam in a large conical vessel called a deksha.  The lid is sealed with dough to prevent the steam from coming out and the food is slowly cooked typically on charcoal. This cooking method is what gives it the distinctive flavor and the taste.  This way of cooking in slow steam is difficult. A chef cannot really examine the biryani while it is cooking. Once they remove it from the flame, and the meat is overcooked or undercooked – the chef  cannot really make adjustments.

Many restaurants serving non-authentic biryani serve what is called pukki biryani – which means the meat and rice are cooked separately. Then, they mix them both at the end to create a biryani.   This is like mixing curry and rice.

Finally, remember that the Biryani was originally designed to serve quick meals to troops during war.  So any good Biryani restaurant will typically serve a large number of guests. The good biryani restaurants in Hyderabad serve tens of thousands of meals a day.

The above should hopefully help you figure out if a restaurant is serving Authentic Hyderabadi Biryani!

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