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Birista Recipe | How To Make Perfect Birista At Home | How To Make Fried Onions For Biriyani

Birista With Step by Step Photos

Fried onions or Birista is used as the taste maker and / or garnish in biriyani and Indian pulao recipes. Making uniformly browned fried onions is the key in its preparation. You might have seen this caramelized crisp onions on biriyani and ghee rice. I am using this to garnish my vegetable biriyani when preparing for special guests. 

Preparation of caramelized onion is quite easy. Normally in my locality, we call it simply, fried onions or ulli varuthathu. (In Malayalam ulli means onion and varuthathu stands for fried, so ulli varuthathu). But when we go to the northern side of Kerala, biriyani and ghee rice is more prominent and biriyani  became one of the usual lunch menu. Their, these fried onions are known in its original name birista. 

Some points to be noticed while making birista,
  1. Slice the onions as thinly and uniformly as you can. Thicker pieces will take longer time to caramelize. Also thin onion will cook fast, leaving the under cooked thick pieces. So it is important to slice onions as thinly as you can. 
  2. Deep frying is the best to get uniform and fast browsing. 
  3. You have to stop cooking before attaining the desired color as these onions will brown again utilizing the steam or heat entrapped inside while frying. 

Birista Recipe | How To Make Perfect Birista At Home | How To Make Fried Onions For Biriyani


  • 6 medium onions
  • One generous pinch of sugar
  • Oil for deep frying

How To Make Birista For Biriyani

  1. Peel off the skin and remove the basal part of onion first. Further slice thinly and uniformly as you can.  Separate the sliced onions gently with your hands.

  2. Heat oil in a thick bottomed kadai. When the oil turns hot, put evenly and uniformly chopped onion. Make sure that the oil is not too hot or smoky. Once you add the onion, the oil will start sizzling immediately, reduce the flame to medium or low for convenience otherwise keep the flame on high and stir continuously without leaving the kitchen counter.

  3. Add one generous pinch of sugar. This sugar will speed up the caramelization process. But do not add too much sugar, the caramelized onions is not sweet.

  4. Stir continuously and don't let the onion pieces unattended. The onion will turn soft first. 

  5. Gradually, it will start browning. Up to this stage, you can keep the flame high. Nothing is going to happen. But once the onion start to change its color, do reduce the flame and stir.

  6. Onion will come to light golden brown color, you can stop cooking at this stage if making birista for mutton or beef. 

  7. Otherwise continue cooking unless you get a nice brown color. (especially for chicken and seafood) 

  8. Strain oil using a strainer and let it come to room temperature. Store in zip lock bags or plastic containers in freezer.

Happy Cooking

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