Difference Between Pulao and Biryani

When it comes to Indian cuisine, rice holds very important connotations. Whether it is the North or the South, either rice or roti is bound to be a regular item in Indian meals.


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Due to India’s variety in cultures, a wide range of rice dishes can be found here ranging from plain steamed rice to palak and tomato rice. However, the ones that are most liked and loved are pulao and biryani.

Pulao vs Biryani

The difference between Pulao and Biryani is in the method of preparation. Pulao is made using the absorption method. The rice and vegetables completely absorb the stock or water during preparation. On the other hand, Biryani is made using the draining method. In this, rice is partially boiled in water, after which it is drained and dried for layering.

Pulao vs Biryani

Pulao is a rice dish prepared with broth and a variety of spices. It is usually brown and is a common dish in India and Middle Eastern countries.

While preparation, various food products or additives, including vegetables and meat, are also added. These make the dish delectable and the most loved by Indians.

Biryani is another rice dish that originated in South Asia. Indians living both abroad and, in their homeland, love this dish. It is a very popular dish not only among Muslims but also among people from other parts of the world.

It takes time and a lot of practice to make a perfect biryani.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPulaoBiryani
OriginBelieved to have originated in both India and TurkeyOriginated in Persia and brought to India by the Mughals
Time is taken to prepareLess compared to biryaniMore compared to pulao
Spices usedFew spices and ingredientsVariety of spices
SmellModerate smellDistinct heavy smell due to the spices used
Method of preparationAbsorption methodDehydration method
Layering during preparationPartial or no layersMany layers of meat, rice, vegetables, onions used

What is Pulao?

Pulao is an Indian dish cooked using spices, masalas, rice, and a variety of vegetables.

Various versions of pulao available in India include Matar Pulao, Tawa Pulao, Veg and Soya Pulao, etc. Sweet versions of this delicacy include Bengali mishti and Zafrani Pulao.

Whether a person likes spicy food or sweet one, pulao offers it all.

This easy-to-make recipe is prepared using the absorption method. The secret to making a perfect pulao is the whole spices used which gives it a unique flavor.

It is usually served with raitas.

There is a lot of debate in terms of its origin as it has existed for a very long term in various parts of the world. It is said that the word pulao originated from the Sanskrit word ‘Pulla’ which means meat and rice.

The most common belief is that it originated in Turkey and traveled to India or it originated in India and traveled west.

The most distinguishing factor of pulao from other rice dishes is that each rice grain is separate and flavourful. Iranians make this dish with pistachios, saffron, zest, and a vast variety of meat.

While in Delhi, the pulao has evolved into a variety of biryanis. One can find a different variety of pulao in almost every region in India.

What is Biryani?

Biryani is a world-famous dish prepared with long-grained rice. It is layered with chicken, vegetables, lamb, fish, and thick gravy and flavored with a variety of spices.

It is then covered with the lid secured and cooked at a low flame.

The origin of this dish too is debatable. It is mostly believed to have traveled to India and was introduced by the Mughals.

That is the reason why the city of Hyderabad is known for its mouth-smacking biryanis. Every region’s biryani differs from the others in terms of its flavors and ingredients.

The main parts of this dish comprise meat, marinade, rice, and spices. The most used marinade for meat is yogurt spice.

Sometimes herbs and seeds also form a part of it, along with caramelized onion topping.

The most common types of biryani named according to the regions they are found are:

  • Hyderabadi Biryani: The distinguishing element of this biryani is goat meat cooked side by side with rice and coconut and saffron seasonings. It is the most famous type of biryani.
  • Malabar Biryani: Cooked with ghee and Khyma rice, it is the only kind of biryani cooked in Kerala. It is a popular dish among the Malabar Muslim community.
  • Mughlai Biryani: This richly flavored dish is cooked with dry fruits, almond paste, curd, and chicken.

Main Differences Between Pulao and Biryani

  1. Pulao is believed to have originated in India and Turkey as Turkish Pilaf is no different from pulao. On the other hand, Biryani was brought to India by the Mughals.
  2. Pulao is prepared with the absorption method whereas Biryani is prepared with the dehydration method.
  3. Biryani has many layers while preparation while pulao has almost no layers.
  4. Biryani takes comparatively more time to prepare compared to Pulao.
  5. Spices used in Biryani are more powerful giving it a distinct smell. On the other hand, pulao contains fewer spices and is usually not colored.
  6. While cooking, pulao is cooked on medium to high flame whereas biryani is cooked for a long time on low flame.
Difference Between Pulao and Biryani


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