It’s time to settle the biggest debate of our time. The one that has broken friendships, triggered loud yelling at public places and in some cases, even started fist fights. Yes, I’m talking about the question that has chefs facepalming and scientists sighing – Is Veg Biryani just another word for Pulao?
The answer is no. I hate to disappoint those of you who believe the world begins and ends with meat, but there are actually differences between Veg Biryani and Pulao. I understand how, for the average non-vegetarian, they may seem the same, but although they are both made with rice and vegetables, Veg Biryani and Pulao vary in the way they are cooked as well as the way they taste.
In order to make Pulao, vegetables are sautéed along with the rice and water and cooked together. There is no layering involved and it is usually prepared in a single pot. For Biryani, on the other hand, the rice and the meat (or in this case, paneer and/or vegetables), as well as the masala are all cooked separately. They are then further cooked on a low flame together. The spices used to prepare Biryani are far more rich and prominent as compared to pulao, hence the taste and aroma of the Biryani – which also takes longer to make – is more rich and enhanced.
As a vegetarian and a proud consumer of Paneer Biryani, I can assure you that the taste is also very different. It’s not like having different variations of an aalu bhaji, it’s more than that! Paneer (and veg) Biryani, is just as tasty as chicken Biryani. So please, the next time you make your ‘But Veg Biryani is really just Pulao,’ face, find some facts to back you up!
Biryani can be of different types – there is the famous Hyderabadi biryani, the Lucknow biryani, the Sindhi Biryani, and the Culcatta Biryani. All of these also have a Veg variant, like all good things! Unfortunately, restaurants too, fail to pay attention to the important details that differentiate Veg Biryani from Pulao. No, that white rice mixed with vegetables is not Biryani!