BIRYANI — the real deal, travesties, and other tales

Welcome @medgirl!

Bombay biryani is my jam, so I find Calcutta biryani more in the vicinity of a mild pulao (and very dry), but my dad loves it.

I’m very curious about Asma Khan’s version - need to convince someone who knows what biryani is supposed to taste like to go try it!

Word. (Even in India, homemade is a different and special category.)

Agree. I don’t know if Dawat or Kitchens of India biryani kits are available in the UK yet, but they are very good, and take 75% of the time out of the process (includes the fully cooked korma base concentrate, so you just add the meat to it, boil the included rice, and layer).

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Not yet from either of the online suppliers that I use. But I’ll have a look out for them next time I’m at the Asian supermarket not far from me. The Shan one ,mentioned upthread , seems to be readily available even, somewhat surprisingly, from my normal supermarket (Sainsbury)

Shan is very good, but also very spicy (Pakistani brands are usually much spicier than Indian).

If you use it, I’d suggest using the standard powdered spices (cumin, coriander) for 75% of spicing and just a tbsp or two of Shan like you’d add garam masala, to get the flavors right.

ETA: Have you tried Anjum Anand’s line Spice Tailor? Looks like they’re on Amazon. But different than what I was referring to (cooked rice and sauce rather than spice paste).

(Looks like the kits aren’t in the US yet either.)

I make a biryani from a You Tube video that is complex and sublime. Many ingredients, some specialized. Once you have the ingredients, it’s easy to make. though it calls for grinding spices and marinating the meat overnight.

Because of this, I rarely find restaurant biryani to be satisfying anymore. Most places make it relatively plain tasting, even places that specialize in biryani.

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Has said no South Asian person who cooked biryani ever :rofl:

Kudos to you

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I can’t recall seeing a restaurant menu in the UK which claims geographical provenance, other than Hydrabad. It’s always listed as that or just “biryani”. It’s not a dish I order that often but never if it’s just “biryani”.

I’ve been to India 4 times. Many homes have an extra sink built into the dining area so people can wash their hands before and after meals. Once my daughter accused me of not adjusting well … my response: I’ve been bathing using buckets of water and eating noodles with my fingers (not easy!).

That would be so weird if we were talking about the same one and where like next to each other in line on same days…lol

I got some Daawat branded EL-grain basmati at a local store and it turned out great. I made it fairly simple (butter S&P, bit of lemon juice) because I was using it as a side for skewered kebap style meats and veggies. I simmered saffron in some half-and-half to coat/flavor about 15 percent of the rice just before it was ready to go.

It turned out great - essentially the same as I’ve had it in restaurants. Many thanks!


Hi Steve, can you post a link to the YT video?

If i want to make biryanis at home one day, would you recommend that i get one of those spice packets or go all out and make from scratch?

The packet is easy, though I don’t think biryani masala is any harder than any other indian gravy if you have all the ingredients stocked.

Remember that the bulk of the work in biryani can’t actually be avoided — cooking the meat in the masala, separately par-cooking the rice, layering, and then finishing it all together.

The packet saves you step 1, which is making the masala for the meat to be cooked in. So maybe start with the packet and see how you like it, and the next time you can make the masala and see how much time that adds for you. You can also do that on a different day — ie make the masala and cook the meat on one day, and assemble the biryani the next day.

I hear Shan makes good spice mixes.

I use Shan. But as saregama has mentioned upthread, it is really spicy. I would use the entire packet to make a large pot (8 litre casserole size) of biriyani. For smaller amounts of biriyani, I would use only part of the packet.

I should clarify that there are two types of spice packets – one is just the necessary powdered spices, the other is a spice paste that includes onion, tomatoes, aromatics, yogurt, and spices – sometimes that paste comes in a kit with basmati rice, whole spices, and raita seasoning too.

I was referring to the latter with Harters. The former is excellent in that it has all the esoteric spices you might not stock (even if you cook basic indian food), but you still have to make the masala base yourself (onion/tomato/ginger/garlic/yogurt).

Here are examples of both:



Oops, I have no idea why I didn’t see your post until now. Oh well, only 7 months later.

One interesting thing to note: the creator for this biryani has 177 different videos for rice dishes from the subcontinent. I love the production values. And no, I do not understand whatever language is used in the intro, the actual recipe uses only music. This is for the kacchi biryani I have made multiple times. It slays just about any restaurant biryani:


She’s speaking in Hindi or Urdu. She’s welcoming viewers and says she knows there might be lots of questions but she’s happy to answer them (presumably in the chat below the videos).

No worries - thanks Steve!

Although this references Southern California restaurants, the overall piece delves into some of the regional versions of biryani.