The Story of Biryani at Mantra Indian

Here at Mantra Indian Restaurant we love a Biryani and our customers do too. But not everyone who eats Biryani knows the history behind the dish. Read on to discover all the different types of Biryani and the origins of the dish.

Where there’s Indian food, can biryani be far behind? Simply the mention of this dish gets everyone salivating. Indeed, it is one item that is unanimously popular not just in Indian cuisine, but across the Indian subcontinent. But did you know that biryani is actually an import from Persia.

Biryani is a derivation of the Farsi word ‘Birian’. It is believed that it was brought to Indian by traders via Afghanistan. And, as the popularity of biryani spread across the subcontinent, several regional variations cropped up. The different variations of biryani are tweaked to incorporate local ingredients and cater to the regional taste. Currently there are more than 20 types of biryani available throughout India, out of which a few have attained cult status and are enjoyed by people of every state. Here’s a rundown on the distinctive features of the most well loved biryanis of India.

Awadhi Biryani

Awadhi/Lucknowi biryani is closest to the original recipe and uses the least amount of spices as compared to other types of biryani. The meat and spices are half cooked while the rice is cooked separately along with cinnamon, star anise and saffron. The two parts of the biryani are then layered in a deep bottomed utensil and cooked by sealing the mouth of the utensil with dough. The final touch of this biryani is with the additional of screwpine water (kewra) which gives it a rich aroma.

Hyderabadi Biryani

Hyderabadi biryani got its distinction from the royal taste of the nizams of Hyderabad. This biryani is high on spices and bursts with flavor. Hyderabadi biryani is cooked by tossing the raw meat, rice and spices in a round bottomed utensil and sealing the mouth of the utensil with dough. The finished product is often garnished with fried onions. At Mantra, Indian Restaurant, we make Hyderabadi biryani in true Nizami style. Give it a try on your next visit.

Calcutta Biryani

The British rule deposed the last Nawab of Lucknow, Wajid Ali Shah, to Calcutta to take over his kingdom of Awadh. The royal cooks who accompanied him to Calcutta had to make adjustments to their reduced status and compensated for the lack of meat in biryani with potatoes. Today, Calcutta biryani is synonymous with potatoes and an egg, along with the meat. The flavor of the biryani is the same as the Awadhi variety.

Thalassery Biryani

This biryani originated from Thalassery, a small town off the coast of Kerala. This variety uses aromatic short grained rice instead of Basmati. The meat and rice are cooked separately in this biryani and then mixed together to be cooked for a second time. The biryani is garnished with fried cashews, raisins, onions. The addition of curry leaves gives it a distinct aroma.

Ambur Biryani

Ambur biryani is famous in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It too uses short grained rice instead of basmati. The spices used in Ambur biryani are extensive and includes lots of mint and tomatoes. The mutton and spices are tempered with curd which gives it a tangy aftertaste.

Memoni Biryani

Memoni biryani or Kutchi Memoni biryani is from West Indian and has its origins in the Sindh region of Pakistan. This biryani has a deep color which comes from the rich spices used in making it. Memoni biryani is spicy and uses yoghurt in large quantities.

Bombay Biryani

Bomaby biryani has lots of fried onions and is sweeter than all other types of biryani. It is the only other biryani, apart from Calcutta biryani to have potatoes in it. Bombay biryani is greasy and eaten with meat gravy.

Malabar Biryani

Malabar biryani is another gem from Kerala. It is low in spices and the meat is first deep fried before being added to the rice.


Traditional biryani is made from meat which was a problem for the largely vegetarian officers of the Mughal court. To counteract this problem, the meat was replaced by potatoes and vegetables creating the Tehri. It is still a very popular street food in Kashmir.

So, now that you know about the most popular biryani varieties go on a tasting spree and gobble up all that the delicious world of biryani has to offer!