Does Veg Biryani Exist, or Is It Just A Pulao? The Age-Old Battle

Two similar seeming foods usually hog the limelight of foodies all around and at times become the whole point of debate amongst food lovers. One such popular age-old battle is between pulao and biryani. There have been wars raged on Twitter, time and again, in regards to understanding the difference between pulao and biryani.

Origins of Pulao and Biryani

The basics of culinary tell us pulao came way earlier than traditional Indian Biryani did. Pulao is a one-pot dish that came closer to the fundamental cooking techniques of human evolutionary history. Pulao used to go by the name of ‘Pilaf’; it was the true predecessor of the Biryani. Both the dishes consist of the same essential ingredients. These ingredients include rice, meat, and authentic Indian ground spices, yet they have some distinct taste in their own ways.

veg biryani vs pulao

Difference between Pulao and Biryani

People have constantly been questioning the existence of veg biryani in the cuisine. There have been debates about the same.

  • Technique of cooking

The most quintessential difference between pulao and biryani is the technique of cooking involved in preparing the dishes. Rice is prepared in a measured amount of water, enough for cooking the meat and the rice together. Grains of rice absorbs all the water while in the process. The flavourful water contains all the tanginess of the meats or vegetables, and the rice soaks in the wholesome deliciousness drying up the pot. The rice and meat cook together from start to end while making pulao.

On the other hand, biryani is cooked in a substantial amount of water so as to let the rice grains cook and elongate, which eventually gives the right feel to traditional Indian Biryani rice. There is a certain technique to it when preparing steamed rice for Biryani. The pre-soaked rice grains are added to the boiling salty water; you can drain the water once the rice is parboiled and elongated and let the rice somewhat dry.

  • Layers of rice

The stark difference between Pulao and Biryani is that biryani is made in layers. All Biryani lovers know this by now; biryani has layers to it. Biryani at Indian restaurants is cooked differently considering the region, people’s taste, and more such reasons. Some places add the layer of rice as the base, then layer it with semi-cooked meat or vegetables, followed by another layer of rice, and then top it with the layer of fried onion and ghee and garnish with coriander leaves. Some places skip the first layer of rice and directly add the meat or vegetable layer and go on layering biryani.

Making pulao is easier when compared to Biryani. It simply involves sauteing the meat and veggies together, tossing the rice in it, adding sufficient water in, and then letting it cook. Preparing pulao doesn’t include the layering trouble. Pulao is easier to cook.

veg pulao

  • Heat

Heat is often laid aside in cooking, but it is one factor that can actually change the feel of your dish entirely. People new to making biryani often stumble upon this stage since it is supposed to be slow-cooked thoroughly. The logic behind this trick is that the spices take time to unleash their full flavours in some dry surroundings; hence slow cooking for a longer duration is the key.

It is generally cooked on medium to the high flame when it comes to pulao, depending on the type of rice one uses.

  • Spices

Even when it comes to spices, you cannot go overboard, except Mumbai’s famous Tawa pulao, which is never mild. When pulao became popular in the Middle East, it didn’t consist of many spices, and that is why the pulao prepared in India is mildly spiced.

The essence of Biryani lies in the spices used to prepare it. A dish of biryani typically has 15 spices that go into it on average. At the same time, there are some places that go beyond that number and add even more than 25 spices in the spice mixture to add in Biryani.

  • Choice of vessels

When starting with preparing Biryani, people often make this mistake, choosing the right vessels. Although there is not much difference between both, this little thing makes a huge difference to the dishes. Indian culinary arts give utmost importance to the properties their vessels hold.

Veg Biryani

Any pot narrower than a pan works fine for making pulao. It is usually assembled in the centre where you find the maximum heat for pulao to cook properly. Typically flavours get released at such high heat, which is why pulao is mainly cooked in pots. However, there is no such hard and fast rule to this; pulao can also be cooked with wide utensils that can taste equally good.

Biryani is an aromatic dish that gradually develops as it gets cooked. Biryani requires a wide vessel to be cooked in so its layers can be appropriately arranged and cooked. Its preferred vessel is called Daig. It’s a pot with a wide mouth that has a flat bottom.

In a Nutshell, Yes! Veg Biryani definitely exists.

It would be unfair to accept only authentic chicken biryani, or for that matter, any biryani consisting of meat as Biryani, for vegetarians have the right to enjoy Biryani too.

Try authentic Indian Veg Biryani at Indian Restaurants in Vancouver like Sula. We prepare your scrumptious Biryani using aromatic spices ground in-house combined with fresh herbs and some love. Get served in a playful Indian-inspired indoor garden-style seating, come visit Sula and cherish your good times over a plate of Veg Biryani.