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Among the newsmakers in the Nayan-Shivan wedding was Jackfruit Biryani that was served to guests. This mock-meat dish may have helped guests eat a biryani with the texture of meat but without actually eating meat. But how healthy is jackfruit biryani? Can biryani be made healthier while retaining its taste and flavour without having to replace meat?

Originally from Persia and updated by Mughals, biryani is among the top 10 in the Indian platter. Biryani is a rich food not just in cost but also in its calorific value. The rich spices added to biryani give off an appetising aroma when fried, which blends beautifully on slow cooking. The flavour can be customized from mild to strongly spicy.

Jackfruit biryani

(Photo Credit Jhanvi Singh- Flickr)

The major ingredient can be chicken, fish, mutton, prawn or even jackfruit. Jackfruit has unique fleshy texture among fruits and this feature best suits to make jackfruit biryani. The unripe jackfruit texture resembles chicken which acts as a meat replacer. It is rich in carbohydrates, proteins, potassium, calcium, iron and vitamins as reported by R. Jagan Mohan and Mohan Naik in F&B news in 2018. The researchers have also reported that the flesh of the jackfruit is starchy and fibrous, and is a source of dietary fibre. The presence of iso-flavones, antioxidants and phytonutrients in the fruit indicate that it has cancer-fighting properties. It is also known to help cure ulcers and indigestion.

The seeds of jackfruit can also be used in the preparation of spicy curry which can compliment the jackfruit biryani. Using unripe jackfruit and seeds will enhance the flavour, texture and nutritive value.

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Addition of ingredients in the right order and frying till the right stage when the flavour is released is the mandatory skill to prepare biryani. The texture of the major ingredient and rice is very important to achieve good palatable biryani. Based on the quantity of spice used and the method of cooking adapted and the unique ingredient added, Biryani is classified into different types. To begin with, Dindigul Thalapakatti biryani has unique taste and rich spices, Hyderabadi Biryani has extreme spices, Bengaluru Biryani has lot of coriander and mint, Malabar Biryani is light and aromatic, Kolkata Biryani is famous for addition of potatoes whereas Bombay Biryani tastes sweeter. The early Mughali Biryani had meat cooked in rich spices and Kampuri Biryani has both chicken and vegetables cooked together, giving their respective regional tastes.

Researchers have also reported that the flesh of the jackfruit is starchy and fibrous, and is a source of dietary fibre. The presence of iso-flavones, antioxidants and phytonutrients in the fruit indicate that it has cancer-fighting properties

The ingredients used in biryani release their characteristic active component giving potential nutritive benefit to those who eat it. For example, the major biologically active compounds present in ginger is gingerol. The garlic releases allicin, cloves release eugenol, cinnamon releases cinnamon aldehyde, turmeric has curcumin, cardamom has limonene, onion has quercetin and basmati rice has medium glycemic index. Vegetables improve the vitamins and mineral content in biryani, addition of chicken/mutton/egg/fish improves the quality of protein. These potential bioactive components give health benefits to the body. The addition of rich spices helps in relieving gastro-intestinal diseases, improve immune function, anti-inflammatory function and so on.

Nayan-Shivan wedding menu

Biryani is a nutritionally rich food which best suits for undernourished population and those who are in the process of gaining weight. A normal healthy consumer must have control in consuming biryani due to its fat content. Fats are required for specific functions in our body but if left unburnt it easily adds to the body weight and makes a normal healthy person overweight. One gram of carbohydrates gives 4 Kcal, one gram of protein gives 4 Kcal and one gram of fat gives 9 Kcal. With this one can calculate the calorie content gained by consuming biryani.

Hence it is important to consume biryani in the right way. Here are a few tips to cut calories and to continue enjoy eating biryani. Add less quantity of rice and more of vegetables and other ingredients like mutton, chicken or fish into small pieces to balance the calorie requirement. Focus on the complementary dish to cut excess calorie intake. For example, a vegetable raita made from low fat curd can be preferred over an oily curry or deep fat fried items.

Another healthy combo is just to have raw onions with your favorite biryani. Raw onions can lower blood cholesterol level.

Another healthy combo is just to have raw onions with your favorite biryani. Raw onions can lower blood cholesterol level. Even if the biryani is greasy, onions can help to control the cholesterol level. Sulfur present in onion acts as a natural blood thinner and prevents blood platelets from aggregating, as per a study reported in the journal Thrombosis Research. Moreover, Other important phytochemicals in onions are disulfides, trisulfides, cepaene and vinyldithiins. They all are helpful in maintaining good health and have anti-cancer and antimicrobial properties, according to the National Onion Association. Research has proved that consuming 200g onion daily for a period of two months has reduced the cholesterol content significantly. So let’s use this scientific tip to keep us safe so that we get freedom to eat biryani in a long run rather than adding biryani to the foods-to-be-avoided list.

Second is to consume warm cinnamon tea after eating biryani which again has the ability to reduce the cholesterol content. Though this will wipe the taste of biryani eaten, it will protect you from gaining weight.

Third is to burn the calories with physical exercise and keeping oneself fit so that you are motivated to consume your favorite biryani more than once in a week.

Fourth is to reduce the frequency of consumption so that you avoid gaining weight during continuous feasting. Fifth is to reduce the usage of oil/ghee or replace it with olive oil while preparing the dish. Sixth is to minimize the portion size consciously and not consume excess or till you feel heavy. Eating limited portions is a good indication of matured eating practice and that shows your respect for food as well as your body. Biryani is a special food and let’s keep it special instead of making it a threat to the body.

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