Ever since mankind tilled the land, grew rice, discovered fire, and perhaps discovered the quintessential spice box, it’s been a short leap to finding many ways to throw everything together. The origin story of the two biryanis goes like this. At first, it was a one-stop-shop for soldiers, from the royal Mughal kitchen, either with dishes prepared as he meals or delicacies made for the king from the prey of the hunt. Another cited conception is that it was brought to India by the conquering Turkic-Mongol king, Taimur, and has similarities to the Persian pilaf. It may be derived from the Persian word “Birian” (fried before cooking), or “Birinj” (rice), even if the spelling permutations are incorrect).
It is also believed that the word birinj itself may have its roots in the Sanskrit word Vrihi, which means grain of rice. And the clincher comes in the form of references to rice, meat and spice dishes that date back to the original Vedas! In fact, the biryani we eat today is closer in style to that form compared to OG (which was seal smoked with camphor and musk!). Fast forward to today and the word biryani has become pluralized just as much as the connoisseurs of the people who prepare it. So without further theorizing, let’s take a closer look at each style, what makes them unique, and how to pair them with the right drink if you feel the pull.
Best Sake for Biryani
Also known as Awadhi Biryani, this recipe involves cooking the rice and meat separately, layering them on top of each other, then sealing and “dumb” smoking. The result is a mildly flavored biryani rich in notes of cinnamon and saffron.
pairing: Contrary to popular belief, a crisp Pinot Grigio of Pinot Grigio (Zonin) might go well with this. For more active connoisseurs, fresh Greek Mastiha (Skinos) may be just the right way to accentuate the sweet spice.