I·ATE Food Term of the Week: Mauritian Biryani




Biryani is a fragrant rice dish made from a combination of spices, long-grained Basmati rice, meat and yoghurt. The name is derived from the Persian word, Birian, meaning “fried before cooking”. Biryani was created by the Mughals in the 1600s. It was an enhancement of the ordinary Persian pulao, which was a one-pot army dish made of rice mixed with meat. The Mughal Emperors, who were fond of luxury, perfection, splendor and fine dining, wanted to invent a lavish dish that can be cooked on a large scale and that is proper to be served to thousands of guests at the royal court on special occasions. The Mughals tasked their chefs to prepare a perfect recipe using the best ingredients, the premium basmati rice, the prime cuts of meat, the most exotic spices and the highly prized aromas and scents, including the precious saffron.

Because of the magical explosion of flavours associated with the different spices used in its preparation for the delightful pleasure of anyone tasting it, Biryani is one of the most famous dishes in Mauritius and is the favourite of nearly every Mauritian! Talk about biryani and every Mauritian will think about something festive or joyous. Biryani being a very popular dish around the world with an enriching history is also known as biriyani, biriani, birani or briyani. In the Island of Mauritius Biryani is prepared in almost every household. It is a recipe brought by our ancestors while migrating as working class people from India during the colonization era of Mauritius. The recipe later adapted to our Mauritian culinary style. There are so many different ways of preparing it. Meat (chicken, lamb, beef or fish) and rice are the prime ingredients for the preparation of the dish. The spices and condiments used in biryani may include ghee (clarified butter), nutmeg, cumin, cloves, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander and mint leaves, ginger, garlic, onion and yoghurt. The finest varieties include saffron. A tomato chutney, chili pickles and salad usually accompany the dish.


profileWritten by Raginee Poloogadoo – Terminology Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master´s Programme in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a Bachelor of Law from Northumbria University, UK, a Post Graduate Diploma in International Trade and Commercial Law from the Nottingham Trent University, UK and a Diploma in Professional Mediation Practices, France. She speaks Mauritian Creole, English, French, Hindi, German, Luxembourgish and Urdu.