What’s in a name: In Pakistan’s Multan, a famous biryani dish that is actually pulao 

Shahjahan Khurram

MULTAN: Every day from 12-4pm, the busy Ghanta Ghar roundabout in the eastern Pakistani city of Multan is crowded with eager customers waiting to get their hands on Multani Biryani.

The plateful of steaming rice boiled in seasoned broth, topped with a large piece of chicken, two shami kebabs and thinly sliced onions, and served alongside a generous helping of cucumber yogurt, looks more like pulao than biryani.

But what’s in a name? 

At ‘Naveed Chicken Biryani,’ a popular spot for Multani Biryani, customers like Muhammad Tayyab, 25, are only there for the taste. 

“We love its taste so much that we have traveled 15 kilometers to have it here,” Tayyab told Arab News as he waited for his order. “I come here usually with friends but I also bring my family since everyone loves it.”

The photo taken on August 31, 2023, shows customers eating rice at Naveed Chicken Biryani shop in Multan, Pakistan. (AN Photo)

Biryani and pulao are both popular rice dishes in South Asia. Pulao is cooked by boiling rice in a seasoned broth, while biryani is made by layering cooked rice with meat and vegetables and a flavorful sauce or masala. Pulao is also typically made with fewer spices compared to biryani.

Naveed Akhtar, the owner of the crowded eatery, agreed that the biryani he served was prepared like pulao.

“This is my mother’s recipe and is prepared with the usual [pulao] spices,” Akhtar told Arab News as waiters around him spooned rice and meat out of huge steel pots and piled them onto plates and takeaway boxes. 

“Everything we use to make it is fresh.”

Boxes of rice being prepared for delivery at Naveed Chicken Biryani shop in Multan, Pakistan, on August 31, 2023. (AN Photo)

August is typically a hot month in Multan, a city famous for its unrelenting heat, but Naveed Chicken Biryani was filled to capacity earlier this week. 

“We have had biryani all over Punjab but the taste of the Multani Biryani is something different,” customer Muhammad Zeeshan, 24, told Arab News. 

“We love its taste very much,” said Tayyab, as he finished off his plate of rice. “If we have had biryani from elsewhere, then it is as if they were 50 and this is 100.”

Courtesy: arabnews