Dum Biriyani – Ep 5

I’ve been thinking of resurrecting our series on Culinary Experiences, in case you remember the existence of such a series : ) Since there are a lot of new readers reading me, let me put here once more. ‘Culinary Experiences is a series of visual stories that we started on our website for journaling some of our best ambrosial culinary experiences, be it the finest cordon bleu delights of a master chef or a cheesy experimental simmer at our little kitchen. We are trying to scribe it humbly here. This is not intended to be a recipe archive or a cookery show in case if you wondered. We’re only sharing the experience. Recently, we prepared a dum biriyani at home for the first time.

For my non-Indian readers, Dum is a loose translation of a Persian word for breathing. Dum Biriyani is basically blending aromatic spices, flavors, and herbs into a one-dish pot and slowly cooking the ingredients in a sealed heavy bottomed vessel usually for hours. In some culinary cultures, they are sometimes mildly heated overnight as well.

For a slice of history, from what I’ve read, the ancient dum cooking tradition is generally identified with Mughlai cuisine and is also assumed to have derived from Persian or Central Asian cuisine. There are many stories about its origin but the most popular one connects it with Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah, who was Oudh / Awadh’s wazir or ruler in the late 1700s. In 1784, during a huge famine, the Nawab presented a beneficent activity for his kin with a nourishment for-work program. He needed to develop a Moghul design wonder – the Bara Imambara, which was one among the numerous structures that the Nawab wanted to work in the city. Many individuals chipped in for the activity, and to take care of the majority through day and night, the cooks utilized the technique for dum pukht, wherein meat, vegetables, rice, and flavors were assembled in enormous vessels or handis, fixed with batter and left to slow cook for a considerable length of time.

This arrangement of cooking ended up being the most advantageous strategy to give dinners to the huge number of laborers just as to make for them a flavorsome feast without utilizing excessive flavors, which were hard to come by at that point due to the famine situation.

It was on one such day when a pot was left to slow cook that the delighting aroma and flavor from the dish found the Nawab’s attention and he immediately requested his shahi cooks to make a similar dish in the royal kitchen. The ace gourmet specialists utilized a similar procedure of dum pukht alongside royal artfulness and accordingly began an entirely different sort of readiness, which before long turned out to be monstrously famous in the courts and among the high society as more refinements were presented. It was later embraced by imperial kitchens in Hyderabad, Kashmir, Bhopal, and different districts also back in India at that time.

Other Episodes from the series:
Ep 4 – 32 – Netta’s First Cake
Ep 3 – Armenian Herbal Tea
Ep 2 – Nthree – Kuwaiti delicacies
Ep 1 –  A Piece of Happiness