What is the difference between Biryani and Pulao?


Difference between Pulao and Biryani

pulao-biryani-differenceYou may find many people saying, there is not much difference between the biryani and the Pulao;  but, this is not true. The biryani and Pulao (Pulav) both are made by rice and vegetables or meat; both these dishes belong to the Indian subcontinents or the Middle East region, yet there is a lot of difference between the Pualo and the Biryani.

The differences between these dishes make them unique. Here you can find out what are main differences between the biryani and Pulav:

Cooking Style – Biryani Vs Pulao

While making biryani, the basmati rice is cooked separately from the meat and masala. You have to parboil the rice separately adding lots of salted water. Then you must drain off excessive water through colander when the rice is about 50% to 75% cooked. Then you should layer the rice and the meat properly. The meat marinated in spices and yoghurt is already cooked in what is known as Pucci biryani style, whereas raw marinated meat is cooked with parboiled rice in Kacchi biryani style . After you layer the rice and meat on one another, the biryani is oven baked or cooked under steam in a traditional Dum style.

On the other hand, while making Pulao, the uncooked grains of basmati rice are added in to the meat and masala. The meat is already cooked in another pot. Then, necessary amount of water is added to the pot and lid is placed to cover it and put on low flame until the rice get cooked well and absorb all the liquid and flavors from the spices and meat.

So one of the main differences between a pulao and biryani is that, in biryani you drain off the excess water while in Pulav you allow the rice to absorb all the liquid.

Degree of spices – Pulao Vs Biryani

Usually, the biryani is richer in spices than a pulao. Significantly large amount of spices are added to the biryani compared to a Pulao. Chili powder, Serrano chilis, ginger, garlic and various whole garam masala are the main ingredients that bring spice to the biryani. However, Pulao uses few spices and balances the spices with other ingredients like nuts and raisins.  Also, because of layering of the rice and meat in the biryani, the taste of spice in each bite may vary. You may have first bite rich in masala while other one with plain basmati rice. Whereas, in Pulao, level of spices is made uniform throughout the dish since the rice is cooked in the liquid of spices.

As the Pulao is cooked in liquid, it is moister than the biryani. The biryani tends to be dry and rich in spices.

Ease of making – Pulao Vs Biryani

Generally, Pulao is simpler to make than biryani, as the dish is cooked in a single pot and you need not cook any of the ingredients separately and layer them in a vessel, just like in biryani. The process of making biryani is little lengthy as it require to cook meat and rice separately and place them together for further cooking in Dum. Also, you can have the biryani as a single dish in your meal as it is full of spices, flavors and the most important, nutrients. But you cannot have Pulao  as a main dish in your meal as it is light and you would need other curries to accompany a pulav.

Thus, the biryani is little difficult to make and requires lots of skills to cook it perfectly. You need patience and lots of experience to make a perfect biryani, whereas you can make Pulao well after just 2 or 3 attempts.


  1. I am from Lucknow and here traditionally we cook the Pulao though others call it Lucknowi Biryani. Thanks for pointing out the difference between Biryani and Pulao correctly.

  2. I love biryanis – especially the spicy Hyderabadi and Bombay Biryani. Now, after reading your article, I know the difference between Pulao and Biryani – and their styles of preparation. Thanks!

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