Pronunciation: [beer-YAH-nee]

A rice-based dish popular in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and surrounding countries. Although there are many variations of this dish, biryani is basically a mixture of rice, herbs, spices and other flavoring ingredients, vegetables and/or meat or fish and yogurt. Biryani ingredients may be cooked together or in layers and each country has its own version. Malaysians, for example, add coconut milk to the mix. Although vegetarian biryanis are immensely popular, many renditions include meat, which is typically beef, chicken, goat, lamb or mutton. Exotic flavors come from a blend of herbs and spices such as bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, mint, saffron and turmeric. Packaged biryani masala (biryani spice blend) may be purchased in Indian markets, some supermarkets and on the Internet.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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