From where does Briyani walk-in?

BRIYANI‘! The word just tickles the tongue and its buds with sweet pain. The phrase “Briyani is not just a word, it’s an emotion“, denotes that it has become a part of our life. Each merriment is decored with this signature dish. This particular food doesn’t really need any introduction, as it could present itself with the blend of shades, dance of spices, satisfying aroma, texture of meat and prominent raisins. For centuries, this significant dish serves the tongue and satisfies our crave for unique flavour and our appetite. Let’s go deeper into the search of; where does it come from. The journey of briyani would also be an interesting one as itself.

It’s quite exclamatory to acknowledge that Persia is the throne of its arrival. The etymology of this Indo-Aryan word ‘Briyani’ is from the Persian word ‘Biryan‘ which means ‘fried before cooking’. It served as the food for those soldiers who confronted at the battlefield in Persia. During those times, the people at the war field had prepared their food of this kind. They had coated their meat with the spicy powders that they got from their home and parched it for a night. Then they cook it with rice in earthenware vessel with the charcoal. That was termed as ‘Brinji‘ in those times. So Briyani was the food meant for the people in warfare.

Briyani stepped into India with the arrival of Mughal dynasty in 13th century and King Timur had a huge role in it. But then the food was meant for the people who fight for our country. Then the recipe came to the ears of cooks in kingdoms and it was maintained as the food for the kings which was a mystery for the normal people, including the soldiers. 16th century again played a role, when Mumtaz Mahal, the iconic reason behind the existence of Tajmahal, also played a key role for this iconic dish to reach to the citizens. Mumtaz is the most beautiful and intelligent wife of Shajahan and she used to accompany him, wherever he goes. When she found the soldiers in a weary condition without any nutrients, she prepared this recipe with nutrient sources such as meat and nuts. As the cyclic process, this briyani came back to normal people.

When the British had entered India during the later half of 19th century, the practice of adding ghee to the dish came in, as they were not exposed to the spicy taste. When India got independence, this dish got popularized all over India and each state had adopted their own creative way of preparation. For instance, Hyderabadi briyani got its flavour from the Nizam of Hyderabad and he taught this to Nawab of Arcot.

It would be really intresting to ponder about the history behind each types of Briyani. Now this particular dish got adopted to its own style in accordance to different cultures. Earlier in 2nd century it was mentioned as ‘Oon Soru‘ in Sangam literature. This is one such traditional dish which is revered all throughout the world in recent times. As Virginia Woolf said “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, If one has not dined well“, food is a kind of elixir for life and it would be intresting to know about their history.

Categories: Culture and History