Biryani was brought to Karachi by Muhajirs - Muslim migrants of multi-ethnic origin who migrated to Pakistan during, or around the Partition. In the forthcoming decades, this biryani, which was never historically popular in this part of the subcontinent, took on a life and identity of its own.
It isn’t immediately obvious to the amateur chef what's different about Karachi’s biryani. The truth is, Karachi isn’t home to only one type of biryani. Even within the city, there exist countless variations of the dish. Some are influenced by the cuisine of Gujarat in neighbouring India. Some are made with potatoes and others without. Some chefs slow-cook their meat, while others cook it with the dum (steam) of the biryani.
The one commonality that all the biryanis in Karachi share is their penchant for spice: a fiery burn at the back of your throat, something so hot it brings tears to your eyes.
Over the last few years, biryani has become Karachi’s ideal street food: it’s affordable, ridiculously flavourful, and can be eaten on the go. Its success is no surprise.