Among the most commonly consumed international dishes in Canada, Biryani is a delicacy cherished by people from all backgrounds residing across the city. This popular Indian food in Vancouver and many other places has earned quite a name for itself due to its aromatic flavors, which leave no opportunity to titillate the taste buds of foodies. While its origin is generally associated with Mughals who invaded India during the 15th century, some researchers also claim that a rich dish (Oon Soru) similar to Biryani had been invented way back in the 1st century in South India. This preparation consisted of rice, meat, ghee, turmeric, pepper, bay leaf and coriander.
The term ‘biryani’ comes from a Persian word ‘birian’, the rough English translation for which is ‘fried before cooking’. Besides the origin tale involving Oon Soru, there is another tale about how the classic Indian dish Biryani was created. While on a visit to the barracks of Indian army, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s queen Mumtaz Mahal found that the soldiers were heavily undernourished. She ordered the chef for preparing something which combined rice & meat and also provided balanced nutrition and protein, which eventually led to creation of the Biryani.
Traditionally, the rice in Biryani was either fried in clarified butter or ghee before being boiled in water. The process of frying imparted a nutty essence, but also created a layer of starch around the grains. This prevented the grains from clumping with each other when mixed with the meat. Nowadays, it is cooked not only with meat, but also eggs, lentils, fish, mushroom, soya and vegetables, chicken, prawns and lambs.
Modern Biryani is normally seasoned using a variety of ways. While spices like cinnamon and cardamom bring about the aroma, ingredients like coriander, mint leaves and mint leaves serve as extra additions. Many people even add dried fruits and nuts like raisins, apricots, almonds and cashew nuts while preparing the dish to encourage flavor and texture. For decorative finish, the rice is dyed orange or yellow food coloring.
In the modern times, this dish has very much been adapted to personal and individual styles. Almost every Indian restaurant in Vancouver serves it as one of their specialties. The way a person cooks Biryani can speak volumes about their background and heritage. Once a delicacy fit for nobility, the delicacy has certainly become a prized dish among Indians as well as other ethnicities living in Canada.