Biryani 101: Exploring Regional Variations and Their Unique Ingredients

Biryani: An Emotion that is expected to stay forever!

Has the aroma of perfectly seasoned rice and meat ever filled you with a feeling of comfort? For many, biryani is more than just a delicious dish- it’s an emotion! From the moment you catch a whiff of those warm spices blending, you can feel your soul awakening with nostalgia and joy.

For generations, families across South Asia have come together over a hot plate of biryani, sharing laughs and creating memories to last a lifetime. Whether chicken, lamb or a flavourful vegetable variety, each bite transports you to a place of warmth, love and togetherness. 

While recipes may vary slightly from region to region, one thing stays consistent- the ability of this treasured dish to bring people together and awaken feelings of comfort and belonging. 

From celebratory feasts to casual movie nights on the couch, biryani is a dish that holds memories and creates new ones. It’s no wonder this flavorful feast of a meal has stood the test of time. It has to be because some emotions are simply meant to stay forever!

In this blog, let’s explore 9 popular Indian varieties of biryani and what makes them special.

Biryani’s 9 popular regional variations!

Tamil Nadu

1). Ambur Biryani

Did you know that the Bollywood diva Deepika Padukone is a die-heart fan of Ambur Biryani? Yes, you heard it right! 

Ambur biryani is a truly unique and delicious speciality from the town of Ambur in Tamil Nadu. At its heart is a variety of short-grain rice called seeraga samba rice that gives it an irresistible texture and flavour, unlike any other biryani. 

In addition to this special rice, Ambur biryani stands out for its light, subtle use of just a few whole spices like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom- no heavy spice powders here. This restraint allows the real stars, the dried red chillies, to shine. A paste made from these fiery little peppers provides the main heat and complex flavours. 

The rice is cooked low and slow using the dum pukht method over a wood fire, allowing the flavours to blend together harmoniously. While you can find chicken or mutton versions, chicken biryani is the most common. 

So, if you’re looking for a uniquely delicious biryani experience, you have to try Ambur biryani!

2). Dindigul Biryani

Dindigul biryani is like a symphony of flavours that originates from the bustling city of Dindigul in Tamil Nadu, India. What sets this biryani apart is the use of the aromatic seeraga samba rice. These tiny grains have an incredible ability to remain separate and fluffy even after being cooked. 

But it’s not just the rice that makes this dish special; it’s the way it’s prepared. 

Picture this: The rice is cooked with a blend of spices and your choice of tender meat or succulent chicken, all infused with the richness of coconut milk. The spices are ground into a fine paste, ensuring that every grain of rice is bursting with flavour. 

The layering of rice and meat is an art form, and the slow cooking over a low flame allows the flavours to meld together, creating a rich, aromatic delight with every spoonful. It’s no wonder that Dindigul biryani has captured the hearts (and taste buds) of food aficionados everywhere!

Now, do you want to know who a fan of Dindigul Biryani is? Your star, Ranveer Singh! 

Andhra Pradesh

3). Hyderabadi Biryani

If you’re looking for an explosion of flavours in every bite, then you have to try Hyderabadi biryani

This iconic rice dish originating from Hyderabad is an experience like no other. At its heart, it features the finest basmati rice cooked to tender perfection, along with succulent pieces of spicy meat. 

But what really elevates it to another level is how all the ingredients come together. The meat is marinated to soak up an incredible blend of warming spices like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Then, it’s slowly simmered with the rice, so each grain absorbs that intense yet nuanced flavour. 

Sealing it in a pot allows the rice to cook in its own delicious juices and aromatic steam. The end result is truly magical- each spoonful will transport you with its complex yet balanced taste. 

It’s easy to see why Hyderabadi biryani is celebrated far and wide as the pinnacle of biryani cuisine. One bite will have you hooked on this flavourful feast!

Bollywood Badshah Salman Khan is a die-heart fan of Hyderabadi Biryani! Adding to the list is Pushpa, aka Allu Arjun! 


4). Malabar Biryani

Ah, Malabar Biryani- now that is a truly unique and special biryani unlike any other! While biryanis across India vary from region to region, what sets Malabar Biryani apart is its subtle, aromatic spices and delicate flavours. 

Hailing from the coastal region of Kerala, this biryani embraces the Arabian influences so prevalent in Malabar cuisine. Instead of heavy spices, it relies on a blend of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg to infuse every grain of rice with complex yet gentle warmth. 

Unlike other biryanis that use basmati, Malabar Biryani is made with a short-grain variety called khaima/seeraga samba that cradles the flavours and juices beautifully. 

Just one bite of its tender chicken, fragrant rice and crispy fried onions bursting with flavour will have you understanding why devotees swear nothing compares to the magic of Malabar Biryani. Now, doesn’t that make your mouth water just thinking about digging in?

And with the actor, our very own Bagubali, Telugu pride, Prabhas is a fan of Malabar Biryani!

5). Thalassery Biryani

You haven’t lived until you’ve tried Thalassery Biryani! This delicious biryani variation from Kerala’s northern coast is truly one-of-a-kind. While other biryanis rely on basmati rice, Thalassery Biryani uses a unique type of rice called kaima or seeraga samba rice. It has a wonderful aroma and texture that complements the flavours so well. 

The best part is the coconut milk-based gravy that the rice is layered with – it gives the biryani such a rich, creamy coconut flavour you just don’t find elsewhere. And don’t even get me started on the mix of spices like fennel, cumin and coriander that make your mouth water. Bite into it, and you’ll be transported with each flavorful mouthful. 

With influences from the Portuguese, Dutch and Mughals who traded in the area for centuries, Thalassery Biryani truly embodies the special cultural melting pot of North Kerala. You can taste the love and tradition with every indulgent bite. You’ll have to try it for yourself to believe how amazing it is!

Did you know there are 290 calories in one plate of chicken biryani?


6). Bhatkali Biryani

Have you heard of Bhatkali Biryani? If not, you’re in for a treat! This coastal delicacy hails from the coastal town of Bhatkal in Karnataka, and it has a unique flavour profile unlike any other biryani. What makes it so special? Well, for one, it uses a generous amount of onions – both raw onion slices and cooked onion masala are served alongside each bowl. 

The rice is cooked to tender perfection and infused with the flavours of the masala without being too overpowering. And get this – they even add a handful of curry leaves to the mix! Now we know what you’re thinking: curry leaves in biryani? But trust us, it works and gives it an incredible aroma. Plus, it’s cooked up really quickly, so you can enjoy this coastal speciality in no time. 

So next time you’re craving biryani, don’t forget to try Bhatkali Biryani – we promise you, it’ll become your new favourite in no time flat. Now, who’s hungry!?

Did you know Bhatkali biryani is oil-free and cooked with a dash of onions and curry eaves?

Uttar Pradesh

7). Lucknowi Biryani

Originating from the northern city of Lucknow, formerly known as the capital of the Awadh region, Lucknowi Biryani takes the classic biryani to new heights with its blend of subtle yet complex spices. 

Unlike richer and more robust biryanis, Lucknowi Biryani is known for its lighter basmati rice infused with the most fragrant spices like saffron, kewra water, and rose petals. The spices blend together beautifully to impart an aroma that will have your mouth watering from miles away! 

The meat, whether chicken or lamb, is cooked to tender perfection in a thick, flavourful gravy before being layered with the aromatic rice. After slow cooking to allow all the flavours to meld, you are left with a biryani to remember. 

Just one bite of Lucknowi Biryani will have you longing to visit Lucknow itself to experience the city’s rich culinary heritage. 

Did you know that biryani is the most ordered food online in India?

West Bengal

8). Kolkata Biryani

Kolkata Biryani is truly something special. What sets it apart is the unique combo of aromatic basmati rice layered with tender chicken or mutton and potatoes, giving it a signature taste. 

As the savoury rice slowly cooks to perfection alongside the meats and veggies in the sealed pot, the flavours infuse together into something truly magical. 

One bite of that fluffy rice mingling with the meltingly soft potatoes will have you wondering why you haven’t tried this regional speciality sooner! 

Did you know there is a never-ending debate about whether to address biryani made with veggies like veg biryani or Pulau?


9). Tahari Biryani

The unique Kashmiri biryani, also known as Tahari biryani, originated from an interesting blend of cultures. Kashmiri Pandits and Hindu bookkeepers for Muslim rulers created this vegetarian recipe as a substitute for meat-based biryanis. They developed the first purely vegetable version using potatoes instead of meat. 

Today’s Tahari biryani continues this tradition, made with a colourful array of seasonal vegetables devoid of onion and garlic. Asafoetida stands in for these ingredients, lending its distinctive flavour. A blend of fennel, ginger and garam masala powders infuses the rice and vegetables with complex aromas and tastes. 

Like some others, cashews and raisins provide a sweet contrast, glistening atop the finished dish. Tahari biryani proved that vegetables, too, can result in a uniquely satisfying biryani experience when prepared with care and creativity.

But now, with the change in time, meat is also used in Tahari Biryani in some places. 

A dish named ‘Oon soru’ from Tamil culture is very similar to biryani.

Why choose Sulthan’s Biryani for your biryani cravings?

Sulthan’s Biryani is a one-stop restaurant that offers different styles of biryani from across India to satisfy your cravings. 

Whether you’re in the mood for Hyderabadi, Lucknawi, Chettinad or Kolkata-style biryani made with chicken, mutton or prawns, they have it available. The restaurant prepares your favourite biryani meal using the traditional woodfire cooking method to give you an authentic taste in every bite.


In the end, whether you prefer the richness of Hyderabadi biryani or the unique flavours of Thalassery biryani, one thing is clear- India’s love for biryani knows no bounds! With different varieties of biryani, this delicacy brings people together across regions and celebrations from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. 

While traditions and techniques may vary, the joy of sharing a hearty biryani knows no borders. Don’t be afraid to mix and match ingredients either- who knows, you may end up inventing India’s next iconic biryani! 

Until then, happy eating and exploring more of this amazing cuisine!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1). What is the best kind of biryani?

There is no consensus on the best kind of biryani as tastes vary. However, some popular types are Hyderabadi, Ambur, Dindigul, Awadhi and Lucknowi biryani. 

2). Which state is famous for biryani?

Hyderabad in Telangana is arguably the most famous for biryani in India. Hyderabadi biryani, with its unique blend of spices and layered preparation of rice and meat, has gained widespread popularity both in India and abroad. 

3). How many biryani varieties are there?

Over 50 distinct types of biryani are estimated to be prepared differently in various country regions. Some major biryani varieties include Hyderabadi, Lucknowi, Kolkata, Tamil Nadu, Kashmiri, and Awadhi biryanis, which are defined by their signature ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavours unique to each region.

4). What is the most expensive biryani?

The Gold Biryani from Bukhara Restaurant in New Delhi is considered one of the most expensive biryanis in the world. Priced at around Rs. 7,500 per plate, the Gold Biryani contains premium ingredients like saffron imported from Iran, kewra water, and layers of dum biryani rice infused with the flavours of mutton, chicken and spices. 

5). How did Biryani get its name?

Biryani derives its name from the Persian word “birian”, meaning fried or roasted. During the Mughal era, when Persian was the court language, rice dishes cooked with spices and meat were called birian. Over time, with regional adaptations and linguistic variations, the word transformed into “biryani” in parts of South Asia.