Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Recommended Posts

Could someone please explain the difference (if there is one) between a biriyani dish and a pulao dish? One Bengali friend of mine said they are defintely different but he's not sure how. Another friend told me he had always thought the two were interchangeable terms but he's not sure. I spent some time looking for the answer but no luck.

Thanks,

Richie

Link to post
Share on other sites

from a book on pakistani cooking-

'although at first glance the recipes for pulaos and biryanis may seem alike,they have very distinct flavours and personalities.pulaos are the lighter and quicker versions of the biryanis,which are richer(in their fat content and have more spices.

that i think puts it quite well but as with most things there are certainly exceptions.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am certainly no expert, but biriyani is quite different from pulao:

* a "pulao" is made by first lightly frying the rice in ghee so that each individual rice kernel is coated, and then steaming the rice with other ingredients, usually things like nuts or raisins. It can have a slightly sweet taste, not very spicy at all.

* A "biriyani", on the other hand, does not involve frying the rice first. Also crucial to the biriyani is the fact that meat and rice are "layered" on top of each other. A biriyani is usually made with meat, typically goat meat, although there are so called "vegetable" biriyanis as well. Also, in Hyderabad in India, the biriyani is made by cooking the whole thing (meat and rice) in a tightly sealed pan, sealed with dough -- its a form of the so called "dum" method. A biriyani is also usually quite spicy.

In some ways, fried-rice is more similar to pulao than biriyani is to pulao.

I am sure the experts in this forum would probably be much better than me in pointing out the differences.

Link to post
Share on other sites

ok experts-we know you're out there.we're waiting!meanwhile back to achaya for some dictionary definitions- hmm maybe i should have begun here!

biriyani he says,is'a spicy dish of meat cooked with rice,referred to by this term in the 13 century.numerous variations occur all over india.one is the kacchi-biriyani of hyderabad,with the meat very soft and almost disintegrating into the rice,and irregular patches of yellow saffron colouring.a palao is very similar,and the word itself is of older usage in india.recipes in the ain-i-akbari(a d 1590)show little distinction between a biriyani and a palao.

a palao ,he says is 'a dish of rice cooked with ghee.the word is ascribed to the persian and arabic pilav,pulao and pallao,yet it would have appeared to have found its way long ago into both sanskrit (as pallao-mevach)and early tamil literature of the third to the sixth centuries.ad.biriyani is quite similar to palao,the word being derived from the persian term birinj for rice.

elsewhere he states that a biriyani is said to differ from a palao when the meat takes precedence over the rice.

i think there are so many regional variations including the manner in which rice is handled-to fry or steam or boil with fat..it would be hard to say definitively that one way is particular to the preparation of biriyani and not palao. much as i love hyderabadi biriyani,if a rice dish in tamil nadu with plenty of curry leaf in the seasoning and made with(shock!horror!)rice other than basmati,wants to be known as a biriyani then i won't quibble-provided it's good! :biggrin:

Link to post
Share on other sites

A pulao is nondescript, a biriani is way over the top. Pulaos are accompaniments, birianis are, unfortunately, often the main course. I can just about bring myself to eat a Huderabadi biriani if I'm in the Charminar area, because the genuine stuff is really quite light and elegant. Most other birianis are just too rich and full of stuff that has no business being there.

Vikram

Link to post
Share on other sites
A pulao is nondescript, a biriani is way over the top.

at their worst !biriyani suffers from 'if a little is good,a lot must be better' syndrome.since it's usually trotted out on special occasions there does seem to be a tendency to slather on more than the necessary amounts of grease!

Link to post
Share on other sites

In his wonderful book "Lucknow: the Last Phase of an Oriental Culture" Abdul Halim Sharar writes

In Delhi the most popular food was biryani but the taste in Lucknow was more for pulao. To the uninitiated palate both are much the same but because of the amount of spices in biryani there is always a strong taste of curried rice whereas pulao can be prepared with such care that this can never happen. It is true that a good biryani is better than an indifferent pulao for the pulao may be tasteless and this is never so in the case of a biryani. But in the view of gourmets a biryani is a clumsy and ill conceived meal in c omparison with a really good pulao and for that reason the latter is more popular in Lucknow.

Another definition is given by Digvijawa Singh in "Cooking Delights of the Maharajahs." He writes that when rice is cooked in meat or vegetable stock and spies, it is called pulao but when it is first cooked in water and meat and other ingredients are added later in layers, it is known as biryani.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bong - this discussion on biriyani and pulao urges me to quote a very interesting anecdote by a leading bengali goumet of the name Pratap Kumar Ray:-

"The difference between biriyani and pulao is the same as the difference between an aristocrat refined(bonedi) and a wealthy man(borolok)"

You can put too much of stuff in pulao but a simple biriyani is always more heavenly.

Link to post
Share on other sites
In his wonderful book "Lucknow: the Last Phase of an Oriental Culture" Abdul Halim Sharar writes

In Delhi the most popular food was biryani but the taste in Lucknow was more for pulao. To the uninitiated palate both are much the same but because of the amount of spices in biryani there is always a strong taste of curried rice whereas pulao can be prepared with such care that this can never happen. It is true that a good biryani is better than an indifferent pulao for the pulao may be tasteless and this is never so in the case of a biryani. But in the view of gourmets a biryani is a clumsy and ill conceived meal in c omparison with a really good pulao and for that reason the latter is more popular in Lucknow.

Another definition is given by Digvijawa Singh in "Cooking Delights of the Maharajahs." He writes that when rice is cooked in meat or vegetable stock and spies, it is called pulao but when it is first cooked in water and meat and other ingredients are added later in layers, it is known as biryani.

I loved the first description. Interesting perspective

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

Link to post
Share on other sites

Surprisingly in the Mugal era - Pulao was considered a richer concoction than a Biryani, which was looked as a poor man's food made with left-overs.

How this got reversed is something not many can tell

Personally, I prefer biryani and truly its almost impossible to find a good Pulao. The ones I tried in Persian restaurants are too bland for our spiced tongues

Differentiating between the two is more appropriate in contemporary times. Who knows what its original Recipes were.

One major difference is that a Pulao is a self contained nourishing Rice delicacy, enriched with just about meat and or nuts and spices, but nearly always never hot. Specifically a Pulao is cooked in a Yakhni/Stock.

A Biryani on the other hand has its own ritualistic ways of dealing with the rice and meats either separately or together. The emphasis in a Biryani is to preserve the grain testure of Rice, and umistakenly imparting all fanciful spiced flavors to the meat. Except for a few strands of saffron and a few whole spices, Rice is not heavily pampered.

Again in a Biryani, many prefer to half cook rice with whole spices and use this with the meat mix in alternate layers finishing off in the Dum. Some prefer to cook rice in absorbtion method too.

A Kutchi or Hyderabadi Biryani, uses blanched rice (forget the specific term used), with the marinated meat cooked together on Dum

:biggrin:

Indiachef

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By Sheel
      Prawn Balchao is a very famous Goan pickle that has a sweet, spicy and tangy flavor to it. 
      For the balchao paste you will need:
      > 8-10 kashmiri red chillies
      > 4-5 Byadagi red chillies
      > 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
      > 1/2 tsk turmeric powder 
      > 1 tsp peppercorn
      > 6 garlic cloves
      > 1/2 tsp cloves
      > 1 inch cinnamon stick
      > Vinegar 
      First you will need to marinate about 250 grams of prawns in some turmeric powder and salt. After 15 minutes deep fry them in oil till them become golden n crisp. Set them aside and add tsp vinegar to them and let it sit for 1 hour. Now, make a paste of all the ingredients mentioned under the balchao paste and make sure not to add any water. In the same pan used for fryin the prawns, add in some chopped garlic and ginger. Lightly fry them and immediately add one whole chopped onion. Next, add the balchao paste amd let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the prawns and cook until the gravy thickens. Finally add 1 tsp sugar and salt according to your taste. Allow it to cool. This can be stored in a glass jar. Let this mature for 1-3 weeks before its use. Make sure never to use water at any stage. This can be enjoyed with a simple lentil curry and rice.
    • By Deeps
      This is one of my daughter favorite dishes, being mild and less spicy she loves this rice dish.  Its super easy to make and goes well with most Indian curries.
      Do try this out and I am sure you will be happy with the results.
       

       
      Prep Time : 5 mins
      Cook Time: 5 mins
      Serves: 2
       
      Ingredients:
      1 cup rice(basmati), cooked
      1/2 cup coconut, shredded or grated
      1 green chili, slit
      1 dried red chili
      1 1/2 tablespoon oil/ghee(clarified butter)
      1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
      1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
      1/2 tablespoon chana dal(split chickpeas)
      1/2 tablespoon urad dal(split black gram)
      1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
      A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
      Few curry leaves
      Salt to taste
       
      Directions
      1) Heat oil/ghee(clarified butter) in a pan in medium flame. I used coconut oil here because it tastes best for this dish.
      2) Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal(split chickpeas), urad dal(split black gram), green chili, dried red chili, ginger and curry leaves. Fry this for 30 seconds in medium flame. The trick is to ensure that these are fried but not burned.
      3) Add a pinch of hing(asafoetida) and mix well.
      4) Now add the cooked rice and coconut. Stir well for about 15 to 20 seconds and switch off the flame.
      5) Finally add salt into this and mix well. You could add peanuts or cashew nuts if you prefer. Goes well with most curries.
    • By loki
      Sour Tomatillo Achar

      Made this one up from a recipe for lemons. It really works for tomatilloes. A unique spice mix, and really sour for a 'different' type of pickle, or achar. It is based on a Marwari recipe - from the arid north-western part of India. Tomatilloes are not used in India (or at least not much) but are quite productive plants in my garden while lemons or other sour fruits are not possible to grow here. No vinegar or lemon juice is used, because tomatilloes are very acidic and don't need any extra.

      Ingredients
      3 lbs tomatilloes husks removed and quartered
      1/4 cup salt
      1 Tbs black mustard seeds
      2 star anise buds
      10 dried chilies (I used very hot yellow peppers)
      1 tsp fenugreek seeds
      2 inch ginger (ground to a paste)
      2 TBL dark brown sugar
      1/2 cup sugar

      1. In a large bowl, put the tomatilloes and sprinkle salt over them. Cover it and leave for a day, mixing occasionally.

      2. Next day drain the tomatilloes.

      3. Dry roast the star anise (put in first as these take longer, the black mustard, and the chilie pods (add last and barely brown in places). Cool.

      4. Grind the roasted spices with the fenugreek and put aside.

      5. Add tomatilloes, ginger, sugars, and everything else to a large pan and heat to boiling.

      6. Cook till fully hot and boiling.

      7. Fill half-pint jars and seal.
    • By loki
      Sweet Eggplant Pickle

      This is an Indian pickle, some would call a chutney, that I made up from several sources and my own tastes. It is based it on my favorite sweet brinjal (eggplant here in the US) pickle available commercially. It has onion and garlic, which are often omitted in some recipes due to dietary restrictions of some religious orders. It also has dates which I added on my own based on another pickle I love. I also used olive oil as mustard oil is not available and I like it's taste in these pickles. Use other oils if you like. This has more spices than the commercial type - and I think it's superior. I avoided black mustard seed, fenugreek, and cumin because almost all other pickles use these and they start to taste the same. One recipe from Andhra Pradesh used neither and I followed it a little. It's wonderful with all sorts of Indian foods - and also used for many other dishes, especially appetizers.
      SPICE MIX (Masala)
      4 Tbs coriander seeds
      3 hot chilies (I used a very hot Habanero type, so use more if you use others)
      18 cardamom pods
      2 inches cinnamon
      24 cloves
      1 1/2 Tbs peppercorns
      MAIN INGREDIENTS
      1 cups olive oil
      4 inches fresh ginger, minced fine, about 1/2 cup
      6 cloves garlic, minced
      1 large onion finely chopped
      3 lb eggplant, diced, 1/4 inch cubes
      1/2 lb chopped dates
      1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
      2 cups rice vinegar (4.3 percent acidity or more)
      2 cups brown sugar
      2 Tbs salt
      2 tsp citric acid
      Spice Mix (Masala)

      1. Dry roast half the coriander seeds in a pan till they begin to brown slightly and become fragrant - do not burn. Cool.

      2. Put roasted and raw coriander seeds and all the other spices in a spice mill and grind till quite fine, or use a mortar and pestle. Put aside.

      Main Pickle

      1. Heat half the oil and fry ginger till slightly browned, slowly.

      2. Add garlic, onion, and half the salt and fry slowly till these begin to brown a bit too.

      3. Add eggplant, turmeric, and spice mix (Masala) and combine well. Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

      4. Add rest of ingredients, including rest of the salt and olive oil and heat slowly to a boil.

      5. Boil for about 5 minutes. Add a little water if too thick - it should be nearly covered with liquid, but not quite - it will thin upon cooking so wait to add the water till heated through.

      6. Bottle in sterilized jars and seal according to your local pickling instructions. This recipe will be sufficiently acidic.
    • By rxrfrx
      South Indian Style Broccoli
      Serves 2 as Main Dish.
      Broccoli isn't a traditional Indian vegetable, but I designed this recipe to use up leftover boiled broccoli in the style of cauliflower.

      3 c broccoli, cut up and cooked
      3 T oil
      2 T cumin seeds
      2 tsp tumeric
      2 tsp corriander powder
      2 green chilis, sliced thinly
      1/2 c chopped cilantro
      salt, to taste

      Fry the spices in the oil until they smoke a little. Add the broccoli and chilis and fry for a couple minutes to get the flavors mixed. Add salt to taste and stir in the cilantro before serving with chapati.
      Bonus recipe: just before adding the cilantro, crack 2-4 eggs into the pan and stir them around.
      Keywords: Main Dish, Side, Easy, Vegan, Vegetables, Indian
      ( RG2107 )
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...