From North to South, the quintessential favorite of every Indian is the Biryani. While The Nizams of Hyderabad cooked their Kutchi Biryani with a strong blend of spices and meat, The Nawabs of Lucknow wrapped their Pukki Biryani in a subtle flavor and rich fragrance. There are 50+ varities of Biryani in India today—Kolkata Biryani, Dindigul Biryani, Mughlai Biryani, Arcot Biryani, Memoni Biryani, Ambur Biryani, Thalassery Biryani, Kozhi Biryani, Assamese Kampuri Biryani, Tahari Biryani, Beary Biryani, Sindhi Biryani, Bhatkali Biryani, Bombay Biryani, Kashmiri Biryani, Afghani Biryani and others.
Fortunately, Bengaluru being a melting pot of cultures from across India, you get to try a decent variety of options. It is no wonder Biryani is one of my favorite dishes. As with all popular restaurants that have been around for a while, the quality and taste go for a toss with increase in scale. I was tired of all the popular choices and ventured out to discover the joints that served some authentic Biryanis in the city—I tried more than 106 (lost count after that!) biryanis and these are my top picks.
🤯 Must Try 👇🏽
Noon’s Biryani - HSR Layout
Noon’s is a little hole in the wall place started by a Hyderabadi Muslim couple that moved to Bangalore decades ago. The biryani is cooked at home by Begum, with secrets learned from her mother—apparently, the treasured recipe has been passed on from one generation to the other.
Fresh ingredients, authentic recipe and attention to detail makes this special. Papaya is used to tenderise the meat. Khoa and milk with saffron are added to counterbalance the heat from green chillies. Cinnamon sticks are left in water overnight to remove the sticky dirt. These little things go a long way in making the perfectly balanced biryani. To top it all off, Copious amounts of fried onion enriches the flavor. Begum makes a biryani that is aromatic, flavorful but mellow on the palette. Unlike most biryanis, this one doesn’t make you feel like you had a brick after the meal.
Noon’s serves one of the best, if not the best, Hyderabadi Dum Biryani in Bangalore. While the popular biryani restaurant chains like Meghana Foods, Mani’s and Dindigul Thalappakatti thrust their names into customers' throats with deep pockets for marketing and branding, Noon’s built its following completely organically. The Biryani is so good, it didn’t need marketing.
They usually open at 1pm and run out of food by 2:30-3:00pm. The regular customers preorder for the following day and takeaway their packages in person.
If a restaurant is not available on food delivery apps, it’s almost always a good sign. Most good restaurants are overwhelmed with meeting the demand of the crowds at the restaurant. They hardly find time and resources to provide for deliveries. Especially a family run place like Noon’s
The most popular origin story of Biryani traces back to Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan’s beautiful queen who inspired the Taj Mahal. In 1628, as an Empress consort of the Mughal Empire, she once visited the army barracks and found the Mughal weak and undernourished. To provide a balanced diet to them, the chefs were asked to prepare a dish with meat and rice.
Aroma’s Hyderabad House - Kalyan Nagar, Nagawara
Aroma’s is a relatively lesser known restaurant—an underdog located farther from action packed neighborhoods of the city. But, for any foodie that’s serious about his/her Biryani, it’s well worth the trip. Incredible taste of Aroma’s biryani makes up for the lack of decades long history of other places.
In contrast to Noon’s and HBH, Aroma’s Chicken Dum Biryani is masaaledaar. For spice lovers, a spoon of their classic mirchi ka salan with that bombastic biryani takes you back to the narrow bylanes of Hyderabad instantaneously. Though I have qualms with their consistency, when it’s good, it’s god damn bonkers.
The word Biryani is derived from the Persian word, Birian, which means ‘fried before cooking’ and Birinj, which means ‘rice’. At the time, rice was fried in ghee, without washing, to give it a nutty flavour and prevent it from clumping. Dum Biryani refers to the traditional Persian cooking method that uses a slow breathing oven known as Dum Pukht method.
Hyderabad Biryaani House - Victoria Layout, Malleshwaram, Koramangala
In early 2010s, Hyderabad Biryaani House (HBH) on Victoria Road was the default biryani destination for me and my friends. Unlike most mainstream biryanis, HBH’s biryani doesn’t slap you in the face. Neither does it have lumps of masala that burn your tongue like a grenade in your mouth. Flavor of the masala is sublime. Aged basmati rice is sourced directly from Hyderabad. Once cooked, it’s rich in flavor and tastes splendid as it absorbs all the spices from the bottom of the Handi. Both the meat and rice come perfectly cooked. You can dig into the tender and juicy chicken effortlessly. Every grain of rice stands on its own—the true test for a well cooked biryani.
My favorite at HBH is its Boneless Chicken Biryani. The starters at HBH like Chicken Majestic and Lemon Chicken are delicious too. Occasionally, they make a double ka meetha, which is bomb 🤤
HBH was a no frills restaurant with <10 tables that served an authentic Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani on a banana leaf. Though the restaurant was popular with the local crowd, for a long time, it remained the small local joint it was. And then there was a phase in Bengaluru, about 6-7 years ago, where Biryani began to explode in its popularity. During that phase, HBH, Meghana Foods, Mani’s, Ammi’s and others started sprouting all across the city. The demand was so pronounced, Paradise from Hyderabad setup a Bengaluru branch. Hardly any of them managed to retain the authenticity and quality with scale. Today, HBH struggles to remain relevant and keep its taste sacrosanct.
The Nizams of Hyderabad, who belonged to Asaf Jahi dynasty, founded by Mir Qamar-ud-Din Siddiqi, a viceroy of the Deccan under the Mughal emperors from 1713 to 1721, became famous for their appreciation of the subtle nuances of Biryani.