What was that in my biryani?!

So I ordered a Hyderabadi dum biryani from a local place. It started out just like any other biryani.

As I was finishing up the biryani, I saw a little thing the size of a plum pit. Unaware, I put it in my mouth. Its hard, so I took it out and looked at it further. It didn’t look like any of the ingredients/ spices that I’ve ever encountered in biryani. It looked really just like someone ate a plum and spit the pit into the biryani dum.

Was this an ingredient I am unfamiliar with? Or was that a WTF moment?


Looks like a black cardamom pod.

Edit: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Cardamom-Whole-Pods-Tsao-ko/dp/B01FY6LBV6

Wow, not to me. Too flat. It looks like a plum or apricot pit, esp. since it looks like it still has fruit clinging to it. Hope for sck’s sake that I’m mistaken.

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I am sure its not a black cardamom pod because when I put it in my mouth or near my nose it didn’t have any of the distinctive cardamom aroma/ flavors. The texture, while it wasn’t smooth, was much less wrinkled than a typical black cardamom and without the dark color.

Precisely. It looks like that to me too. I hope I’m mistaken too.


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It’s jardaloo / small dried apricot. Not a mistake. The fruit portion has melted into the gravy. Adds a complex flavor note.


Which would seem to indicate a Persian influence at your local takeaway.

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Thanks Saregama! That’s great to know! One can always learn something new here every day.

That leads to a follow up question. What do the cooks typically do with the pits after cooking the gravy? I would have thought that I would see the pits more often given the prevalence of this cooking technique.

@NotDoobieWah, its a Hyderabadi place so it is fairly South. Though I recall someone saying biryani is a dish that originated from Iran and imported into India over time. So having some Persian influence seems to make sense.

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While I don’t dispute this at all, I’ve read dozens of biryani recipes in the course of making it several times and before today I had never heard of jardaloo. To be sure, I just googled “hyderabadi biryani jardaloo recipes” and got zero pertinent results.

The main, and as far as I’m concerned the ONLY question for the OP is “How was it?”.

As I’ve pointed out here many times, I think “cultural appropriation” as it relates to food is about the stupidest, shallowest and most nonsensical SJW issue I’ve yet run across, so I have zero issue with Persian ingredients crossing into Hyderabadi cuisine…

As long as it’s good!


Google “jardalu biryani.” You’ll get a couple of pertinent results.

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Biryani was originally a persian dish, “originally” being many centuries ago, but what is now famous as Indian biryani is quite different.

Jardaloo is one of the “secret” ingredients in my favorite Bombay biryani.

It’s also widely used in Parsi (persian) dishes, the indianized cuisine of the persians who fled to India some centuries ago.


You won’t often see it in a recipe, and that’s (one of many reasons) why no recipe tastes like the real deal.

As I mentioned above, it’s “secret ingredient” level stuff. Also needs a long, slow cook to break down completely, and few home biryani kormas are cooked long enough.

I only know it’s in my favorite biryani (in India) because I find the pit like @sck did. They’d never tell me what’s actually in there. Culinary secrets and all.


Also called zardaloo or zardalu. I’ve seen a few recipes using dried plums instead of the little apricots too.

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Taste was ok. A bit of heat, but to me, the fragrance was lacking. And the basmati was very dry. I know in certain style of biryani the grains are supposed to be separate from each other. This was a different level of dry.

This was the second time I grabbed from this place. Its a small local chain that specializes in biryanis. In fact, they have the word biryani in their name. The first time I grabbed a vijayawada biryani and wasn’t impressed. Wasn’t planning to go back. But I kept hearing that the expat Indian population really loves their biryanis and some say they can’t find this flavor from home elsewhere. So I gave them another try and got the hyderbadi. I liked it definitely better than the vijayawada, but I didn’t find it so appealing that I must go back next time given there are renditions around here that I rate more.

But, I didn’t grow up in India or Pakistan, nor is my family Indian or Pakistani, and I have never been to the region. So I am in no position to assess authenticity. I can only say whether I like it compared to the other biryanis I’ve had over the years- all from restaurants around the SF Bay Area, with the exception of my first one- that’s from a restaurant near the Millenium Dome in London. I’ve heard that proper and awesome biryani are found in places like weddings in India and restaurant versions are just a pale shadow. But since I’ve been only invited to one wedding in India and I didn’t attend, I’ve yet to taste this mythical-to-me exemplary version of biryani. So I can only stick to restaurant biryanis.


That’s good to know about jardaloo. That’s something I would never find out on my own surfing the web reading about Indian food.

Interestingly, when I put the jardaloo in my mouth, I found it slightly odd at the time that there was no fruity or sweet taste whatsoever despite it resembling a pit. It of course makes sense now that you mentioned how its used, that the flavors are all cooked into the gravy. Because if someone’s really just eating a plum in the kitchen and spit the pit in there, there should probably be some taste left.

I’m familar with savory dishes that involve fruit both dried and fresh. But why leave in the pit? Is it supposed to add to the flavor in some way, or slow down the disintegration of the fruit, or what?

The flesh completely melts away. When I’ve sucked the pit (ain’t that a pretty picture :joy:) it has a sweet-tartness that explains some of the flavor notes in the masala.

You might have noticed that Indian cooking is quite different from western traditions in that things that would not be eaten are still in a served dish - whole garam masala is a good example - cinnamon sticks, black cardamom, green cardamom pods, etc. The eater knows to pick them out.

In the same vein, whole dried fruit goes in, seeds are not removed. Actually with the apricot pit, one might crack it and eat the baby almond-like seed. Not much different than sucking the marrow from a shank bone. Culturally acceptable / expected.

Remember we traditionally eat with our hand, not silverware. You usually feel these things with your fingers before they go in your mouth (but sometimes not… as kids learn after biting into a peppercorn or a slice of ginger… :joy:)


Okay, point taken. Actually this makes me wonder about the western practice in this. I have a feeling removing all the inedibles is a recent “refined” thing. It would have to be, I think. A lot of European dishes involve cooking with whole leaves and sprigs of herbs, whole peppercorns, etc. I don’t generally remove such things myself but I do notice that recipes will suggest it. The whole thing of cooking a bundle of herbs enclosed in a removable muslin bag can’t be a very old technique.

Yes and of course until relatively recently everybody did. Shellfish is often eaten with your hands, and even a lot of shellfish stews/soups like bouillabaisse and its many European cousins leave the shellfish in the shell. Fried and roasted chicken or duck are eaten with your hands, mostly. Greek tavernas don’t ever filet fish unless the customer asks for it, for another example.

Sorry, I’m babbling because you’ve given me something to think about. Thank you.

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It’s a common thread among us food lovers, I think.

I was also thinking about your question further, but didn’t want to write a thesis here :joy:

If one were to look at all asian/middle eastern/ancient food traditions, I think this holds true.

This extends from ingredients that would be set aside (not eaten) on the plate to bones in protein.

Maybe (some?) japanese cooking is an exception?

The rest seems to be a departure from food looking like what gives it flavor - maybe driven by greater separation of the eater from the preparer.

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