“You will miss me

When you’ll be in our favourite restaurant

With the girl who doesn’t like biryani”

–Saumya Sinha

Biryani is undoubtedly the most famous of all the rice dishes in the South Asian cuisine. The popularity of biryani can be gauged from the disputes around its origin. Some claim that the dish came from Iran to the Subcontinent. Others maintain that the rice dish was a local invention during the 16th century Mughal Empire. The scale is however tilted in favour of the latter ones. But how was it created is another question that divides the cuisine experts and historians. One legend says that Emperor Shah Jehan’s Queen Mumtaz Mahal on a visit to the army barracks found that the soldiers were severely malnourished. She ordered the chef to make a dish that contained both meat and rice so that the soldiers could be provided with the necessary balance of nutrition and protein. Following the orders of the Queen, the chef created a dish that we today know as biryani. Presently, the variants of biryani are so many that a whole book needs to be dedicated to describe every variant. The rainy and chilled weather nowadays asks all of us to devour biryani — mutton, in fact, lamb biryani — to the fullest.