(Spicy mixed rice with meat)
I grew up with spoonfuls of biryani in my mouth before I could probably say mama. So, though I could probably dedicate four entire posts to my love affair with biryani, I’ll be sticking to my one post protocol for the sake of fairness. Despite longstanding tensions between divergent groups in South Asia, the intermingling of various cultures throughout the centuries of mixed foreign rule ultimately gave rise to a new distinct cuisine drawing from each historical influence. One of the most iconic dishes from this new Indian cuisine as we’ve come to recognize it today instantly became biryani, a dish believed to have originated in the Mughal royal kitchens.
While the true origins of biryani are often still contested, it is widely believed that the dish grew as an offshoot of the Persian pilaf. The traditional nutty mixed rice dish was given a fiery update with the use of native Indian spices and meat. While lamb and goat are considered the most popular additions, especially popular at muslim weddings, biryanis of the chicken and vegetarian persuasion have found a growing place for themselves in restaurants around the world.
I was in pursuit of a classic lamb biryani, but I was drawn to try out a speciality “dum” (a method of cooking involving steaming over hot coals) chicken biryani at a local establishment with a small-time claim to fame. Fragrant, spicy, but delicately nuanced by the coolness of yogurt raita, biryani still remains one of my all time favorite dishes. Pro tip, if you are in Illinois I highly recommend making the drive out to Bloom Bawarchi in Bloomington for their take on the dish.