According to Delhi-based historian Sohail Nakhvi, pulao tends to be comparatively plainer than the biryani and consists of meat cooked with rice. Biryani, on the other hand, contains more gravy (due to the use of yakhni in it), and is often cooked for longer, leaving the meat or vegetables more tender. Biryani is also cooked with additional dressings. Pratibha Karan states that while the terms are often applied arbitrarily, the main distinction is that a biryani consists of two layers of rice with a layer of meat in the middle; whereas, the pulao is not layered
Ingredients vary according to the region and the type of meat used. Meat (of either chicken, goat, beef, lamb, prawn or fish) is the prime ingredient with rice. As is common in dishes of the Indian subcontinent, some vegetables are also used when preparing biryani. Corn may be used depending on the season and availability. Navratan biryani tends to use sweeter, richer ingredients such as cashews, kismis and fruits, such as apples and pineapples.
For kacchi biryani, raw marinated meat is layered with raw rice before being cooked together. It is also known as kacchi yeqni. It is typically cooked with chicken or goat meat and occasionally with fish or prawns. The dish is cooked layered with the meat and a dahi-based marinade at the bottom of the cooking pot. A layer of rice (usually basmati rice or chinigura rice) is placed over it. Potatoes are often added before adding the rice layer. The pot is usually sealed (typically with wheat dough) to allow it to cook in its own steam and it is not opened until it is ready to serve.
Tehari, tehri or tehari are various names for the vegetarian version of biryani. It was developed for the Hindu bookkeepers of the Muslim Nawabs. It is prepared by adding the potatoes to the rice, as opposed to the case of traditional biryani, where the rice is added to the meat. In Kashmir, tehari is sold as street food. Tehari became more popular during World War II, when meat prices increased substantially and potatoes became the popular substitute in biryani.