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A crock filled with rice, with shreds of aromatics like ginger and green onions strewn on top.
Biryani at Semma in the West Village.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

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The 10 Best Biryanis in NYC

NYC is reaching peak biryani — here are some of the best

Biryani is shaping up to be the breakout dish of the year. A variation on pilaf brought to the South Asian subcontinent by the Mughal invasion in the 16th century, biryani exists in myriad regional variations in contemporary India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. It’s one of the world’s great one-pot meals: rice dotted with meat, poultry, seafood, boiled eggs, or vegetables, subtly flavored with things like saffron, cinnamon, cilantro, and mint. Fans are delighted with biryani’s aroma and flavor; it often constitutes a nostalgic reminder of meals at home. Here are my 10 favorite biryanis right now.


Lamb biryani at Halal Diner

A mound of reddish rice with tomatoes and cucumber on the side.
Lamb biryani at Halal Diner.

Seeing biryani transformed into the diner idiom is a great pleasure at this restaurant serving Indian and Afghani food next to a mosque in Queens. No complex spicing schemes, no alternately colored grains, no sauces on the side, this dish ($11) is a flavorful, bare-bones pilaf with lots of moderate-sized chunks of lamb concealed inside. 84-47 Parsons Boulevard, at 84th Drive, Briarwood


Shrimp biryani at Bombay Chowk

A bundt pan shape for the rice dish.
The molded shrimp biryani at Bombay Chowk.

The biryani at Bombay Chowk — with an elaborately decorated premises that qualifies as a fun restaurant — has a decidedly festive edge to it. After all, it has been molded by something that looks like a bundt pan, and plump shrimp dance within its undulant volume flavored with fresh mint. The accompanying yogurt (sauce, dip, or side dish, you decide) is sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. 1371 First Avenue, near 74th Street, Upper East Side


Chicken gongura biryani at Hyderabadi Zaiqa

Greenish brownish rice with herbs visible in a heap of biryani.
Richly flavored gongura biryani at Hyderabadi Zaiqa.

At what is probably the city’s best biryani parlor — a yellow-colored subterranean digs in Hell’s Kitchen — the dish is presented in the styles of Hyderabad and Vijayawada. In the latter category is this wonderful example ($15) in which pickled gongura (the edible leaves of a hibiscus) is mixed in with the rice and poultry at the last minute, making a very rich and tart biryani indeed. 366 West 52nd Street, near Ninth Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen


Lamb biryani at Fresh Curry

Chunks of meat in gravy with rice underneath.
Wonderful greasy spoon biryani at Fresh Curry.

Fresh Curry is a Bangladeshi and Pakistani restaurant in Tribeca not far from City Hall, a steam table joint with bargain prices and great food. Its lamb biryani ($14) is nearly always on display, featuring big hunks of lamb with marrow bones, served with a notable quantity of curry gravy. 183 Church Street, near Duane Street, Tribeca


Goat dum biryani at Hyderabad House

A plate of orange and yellow rice with a half boiled egg on top and two sauces.
Goat biryani at Hyderabad House.

Goat is the king of the biryanis, and the version ($19) at Hyderabad House — a pleasant place tucked away in a Philippine neighborhood with the Jersey Turnpike soaring overhead — comes decorated with onions and boiled eggs. It is accompanied by two chutneys, peanut and coconut. “Dum” is short for dum pukht and means the biryani is slow-cooked in a sealed pot. 523 Newark Avenue, at Chestnut Avenue, Jersey City


Amma’s chicken biryani at Baazi

A biryani in pie form, cut open to show rice inside.
Biryani with a top crust at Baazi.

This well decorated, intensely blue, two-story Indian restaurant in the Upper West Side is quite fancy, and the menu keeps pace. The chicken biryani ($22) comes in the dum pukht style with a glossy sheet of entirely edible pastry over the top to seal in the goodness while the dish is baking. A dish of cucumber raita comes on the side. 2558 Broadway, near West 98th Street, Upper West Side


Goat biryani at Kotha Grill and Kabab

A metal carryout container with biryani and a battered and fried boiled egg.
Bangladeshi goat biryani at Kotha.

This steam table kebab joint – with plenty of emphasis on vegetables, too – is an anchor of the Bangladeshi restaurant scene in Jackson Heights. The goat biryani ($12) features some massive, bone-in pieces of meat, caramelized onions, and a battered and deep fried boiled egg as an added bonus. 72-27 37th Avenue, near 73rd Street, Jackson Heights


Spinach biryani at Kailash Parbat

Rice mired in green goo.
An unusual spinach biryani at Kailash Parbat.

Kailish Parbat is a unique restaurant in the city, from an international chain founded in Bombay in 1952, specializing in the strictly vegetarian Sindhi cooking of northwestern India and Pakistan. This spinach biryani ($18) is highly spiced, and served with papadam and yogurt raita. 99 Lexington Avenue, at 27th Street, Murray Hill


Dindigul goat biryani at Semma

A crock filled with rice, with shreds of aromatics like ginger and green onions strewn on top.
Goat biryani at Semma.

Dindigul refers to an inland city in Tamil Nadu, and this wonderful though expensive ($36) biryani features short-grained seeraga samba rice rather than basmati, which sends the dish into orbit. Two sauces accompany, and the flavors of mint and curry leaf predominate. 60 Greenwich Avenue, at Perry Street, West Village


Mughlai vegetable biryani at Swadist

A pie type biryani with a wedge of crust cut out.
Vegetable biryani at Swadist.

Anyone who thinks a vegetable biryani would be less flavorful should visit Swadist, a Jersey City restaurant at the top of the Newark Avenue hill that partly focuses on the food of Delhi. The biryani ($16) is served in the ancient Lucknow style with pastry on top, and the vegetables run from the traditional to the untraditional (like broccoli). Three people could easily feast upon this pie. 715 Newark Avenue near Summit Avenue, Jersey City

Semma

60 Greenwich Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10011 Visit Website

Kotha grill and kabab

72-27 37th Avenue, Queens, NY 11372

Baazi NYC

2588 Broadway, Manhattan, NY 10025 (646) 861-3859 Visit Website

Bombay Chowk

1378 1st Ave, New York, NY 10021 Visit Website

HALAL DINER

8447 Parsons Boulevard, Queens, NY 11432 (718) 674-6969

HYDERABADI ZAIQA

366 West 52nd Street, Manhattan, NY 10019 (646) 952-0066 Visit Website

Hyderabadi House

796 Newark Avenue, , NJ 07306 (201) 217-9796 Visit Website

Kailash Parbat

99 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10016 (212) 679-4238 Visit Website

Fresh Curry

183 Church Street, Manhattan, NY 10007 (212) 964-6259
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