Biryani or Pulao?

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Yes yes yes, I am aware of the everlasting debate about Biryani not being considered a vegetarian dish; answering questions of surprised friends (most who just love the veg vs. non-veg debate) about how do I even live in the illusion that rice without meat can be biryani. But here I am, once again, calling their pulao, my biryani.

So now that that’s settled, lets move on.

Tonight I cooked vegetable biryani for dinner and it turned out to be better than I expected, honestly. It was devoured by one and all in the family and well, thats quite a kick for starters! No?

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Vegetable Biryani

Cuisines leave their own imprints on history. India has witnessed many invaders, and with each came a different culture and a new cuisine. The Mughlai cuisine that India is famous for developed from the 15th century to about the 19th century during the reign of the Mughals. The Mughals raised cooking to an art form, introducing several recipes to India like biryani, pilaf, and kebabs.

The word biryani comes from the Persian word ‘birian‘ which means ‘fried before cooking.’ Many believe that biryani finds its origin in Iran. While there are other popular stories, like that of Mughal King Shah Jehan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal once visited the army barracks and found the army personnel under-nourished. She then asked the chef to prepare a special dish which provided balanced nutrition, and thus the biryani was created.

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When the British deposed Nawab Wajid Ali Shah to Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), the Calcutta biryani was created. Nizams governing small territories in Northern India encouraged regional variants like the Hyderabadi biryani and the Arcot Nawab biryani. Biryani recipes of the Mughals can still be found in places where their empire had a foothold.

Once a dish for royalty, today the biryani reflects local sensibilities and traditions and is a popular and common dish.

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