Nov 26, 2011

Fish Biriyani...simply awesome!!

Biriyani is a rice dish flavoured with spices and cooked with chicken or fish or meat or simply veggies. It is a very flavorful and aromatic dish .
I simply love Biriyani and my mom makes the most awesome Chicken Biriyani I have tasted until now.
Being health conscious she doesn't use too much butter or ghee in her preparation, but the spices , chicken and the flavored rice mixed together simply compensates for all that. Though I haven't mastered her biriyani yet, I also try to make biriyani now and then whenever we get cravings to have something Gourmet I would say!! :-)

2 things that make this Biriyani recipe special is the fact I made my own biriyani masala powder (as I din't have any store bought powder at hand ) and its the first time I'm making biriyani with Fish :-) And something about having made everything homemade made this biriyani so much more tastier. It was a bit on the spicier side , but then we love having spicy food once in a while!

This biriyani was the result of an instant craving to have something special for lunch. Something special means always BIRIYANI :-) But I had no chicken in the freezer and we weren't in the mood to go and buy some, but I had some Tilapia fillets and there was no thinking twice, Fish Biriyani it is....I have eaten fish biriyani only twice , one was Shrimp and another time it was King fish. Both tasted awesome and unique in its own way. 

The aromatic whole spice flavored Rice, the spicy fish and masala , the carmelised onions , small crunch from the cashew nuts and sweetness from the fried raisins all makes this dish a fantastic combo!!

The recipe description may look lengthy, but that's only because I have tried to cover each small detail of the preparation process. Most of the ingredients are commonly found or used in most Indian households, specially the spices used. I have also provided Easier versions wherever possible. But trust me, the end result is amazing and you'll love it. And like my mom I have made it with very little butter and oil.

Again, this Biriyani recipe is totally mine and I'm sure there may be several other ways to prepare it. Suggestions are always welcome!!

Fish Biriyani Recipe
Recipe source : My own
You'll need
For the rice:
Basmati rice - 3 cups
Butter - 2 tblsp
Whole Cardamom ( Elaichi) - 3nos.
Whole Peppercorns - 6-7nos.
Cloves - 4-5nos
Cinammon sticks - 1 or 2 ( one inch pieces)
Saffron - 1 pinch
Star Anise - 1
Bayleaf - 1
Water - 6 cups
For marinating the fish:
Fish Fillets (Tilapia / Salmon / King Fish ) - 2-3 lb [Cleaned and cut into small pieces]
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Homemade Biriyani masala powder: (My version)
Cardamom seeds ( Elaichi) - 2 ( only seeds of 2 whole cardamom pods)
Whole Peppercorns - 5nos
Cloves - 5nos.
Cinammon sticks - 1 (one inch piece)
Dry Red Chilli - 2-3
Star Anise - 1/2 piece
Whole Corriander seeds - 1 tblsp
Jeera or Saumf - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 3-4 leaves
For masala gravy:
Red Onion - 1 large ( thinly sliced)
Green chillies - 2-3 (cut lenghtwise) - optional
Ginger- Garlic paste - 1 tblsp
Tomatoes - 2 large
Yoghurt - 2 heaping tblsp
Mint leaves - 1/2 cup
Cilantro - 1cup
To Garnish
Red Onion - 1/2 large ( cut into thin rings or slices)
Cashew nuts - 1 tblsp
Raisins - 1tblsp
Oil (Canola / Vegetable Oil ) - as needed for frying
To color the rice yellow: ( optional )
Turmeric powder - 2 tsp
Water - 2 tblsp

For cooking the rice:
1. Wash and soak the Basmati rice in water for 30 - 45 mins.
2. Drain the rice and spread out the rice on a clean washcloth or in a collander to dry.
3. In a deep cooking pot melt 2 tblsp of butter and put in all the whole spices except the Saffron and saute for a minute.
4. Add the rice and fry the rice by folding over gently for about 2-3 minutes.
5. Now add in the 6 cups of water , put in the Saffron strands , salt and cover the pot and cook until the rice is well cooked.
For making the Fish masala:
1. Grind together all the ingredients for the homemade biriyani masala powder and keep aside. ( Easier version : Use store bought Biriyani masla powder)
2. Grind together the tomato, yoghurt , mint and cilantro leaves without water and keep aside.
3. Marinate the fish with all the spices (red chilli powder, pepper powder, turmeric powder, fenugreek powder) and salt and mix well with some water so that the spices stick on to the fish. Refigerate for 30 mins.
4. In a non-stick skillet, on medium heat, add 2 tblsp oil and shallow fry the fish and keep aside.
5. In the same skillet add another 2 tblsp oil and saute the red onions, green chillies and ginger-garlic paste.
6. Add the Biriyani Masala powder and saute for 2 minutes.
7. Reduce the heat and add the tomato-yoghurt grinded mixture , add salt and stir the masala gravy until the gravy thickens. ( If the gravy is thick enough , you need not saute for too long)
8. Add the fried fish pieces into this gravy and mix gently.
For the garnish:
1. Slice the red onions into thin rings or cut the onion in half and slice thinly.
2. Heat some oil on high heat , in a frying pan and fry the onions until carmelised well.
3. In the same oil fry the cashew nuts and raisins and keep everything aside separately.
For setting the Biriyani:
1. Preheat the oven and set it to 200F.
2. If you'd like to color some rice yellow, roast the 2 tsp of turmeric powder until the raw smell comes off and mix with water and slowly sprinkle the turmeric water on about 1 cup 3-4 large scoops of the cooked rice and gently fold the rice over until all the rice strands are colored yellow. ( Easier version : Use yellow food color)
3. In a large oven proof vessel (like a dutch oven) make layers of rice, fish masala and garnish.
Procedure: Mix 3 large scoops of white rice with 1 large scoop of yellow rice , top the rice with 2 tblsp fish masala with 3-4 fish pieces , top it with the fried onions, cashew nuts and raisins. Again add the rice and
continue this layering until all the rice and fish masala is over and make sure the last layer ends with rice topped with the garnish.
4. Cover the vessel with a air tight lid and place it in the oven for 15 mins.
5. Biriyani is ready. Serve it with some cool Raita, spicy mango pickle and Papad...Yummmmy!!

a. While the rice is soaking in water , you can marinate the fish and start with the masala gravy preparation.
b. If you do not want to layer the rice with the fish, cook the rice and fish with masala mixed together. This makes the preparation faster.
c. You can moderate the amount of biriyani masala powder added , if you do not like too much spice.

Sending this post to:
1.  Christmas Delicacy event hosted by Julie.

2. Food of the Month - Contest hosted by Amy



  1. ohh i just love fish biriyani dear....i also make this dish almost using the same ingredients as you hav used, except the raisins n cashew..... n thanks dear for the award.....i would post it in my next post very soon...

  2. Omg, super flavourful briyani, wonderful looking platter..

  3. this looks delicious...seriously drooling here

  4. Thank you all for the comments.
    @julie - sure I'll send this to your event. Thanks for asking.


  5. so yummy & delicious!!
    am getting hungry now....:)

  6. WOW..What a flavourful briyani..i love the clicks...Yummy one manju.Bookmarking it

  7. Fabulous, royal & absolutely mouthwatering biryani!!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  8. I have a real weakness for good rice dishes. Yours has made me weak kneed. It really sounds wonderful. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  9. Good one, Manju! This is almost exactly my mom's recipe, interesting :-) 2 suggestions: 1)when you layer the rice and fish masala, you can sprinkle lemon juice and cilantro cut into tiny pieces too, it adds flavor. 2) bake the biriyani until you see steam rise out of the top layer which is usually after 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the vessel.

    Good Job!

  10. My fav biriyani :) Never tried with tilapia,sounds good,as I love tilapia :)

  11. @Minsa chechi : Thanks a lot for your suggestions chechi...You know what, this is how mummy makes her chicken biriyani,with a little difference in cooking method from fish, and I think she learnt her biriyani from your mom :-) Thats y it looks similar I guess :-)

    @Amy, Aarthi, Prathima, Mary , Vineetha - Thanks a lot for your valuable comments!!


  12. It looks very yummy.. thanks for sharing..

  13. It does look "simply awesome"!! :)

  14. Hi Manju, thank you for visiting Curry and Comfort! :) What a lovely recipe you have here. I love biryani. Thanks for sharing this recipe and the wonderful pictures. ~ Ramona :)

  15. Wow...its really mouth watering !!! Feel like having it right now...Eagerly waiting to see more of your recipes !!

  16. Simply a mouthwatering feast.My tastebuds r wet now.

  17. @sushma - thanks a lot for stopping by. Do visit again.
    @Isa - thank u so much dear.
    @Manju - :-D me so happy....
    @ Ramona - so happy that u stopped by....thank u so much.
    @christy - :-) thanks a lot dear!


  18. @Teena-thank u dear....keep watching my space...let's of interesting dishes coing up :)


  19. Wow! This looks incredible! I've never had fish biryani before, I bet it's awesome.

  20. I tried this recipe came out really well...thanks for sharing it with us..

  21. Tried dis recipe today..came out really well...thanks for sharing....

  22. tried this recipe today it is really awesome.....thanks for sharing with us.
    Is that chicken biryani recipe also same or diffrent can u post if it is...

    1. Chicken biriyani is also almost the same, except for a slight difference in the way its cooked. I'll try to add a Chicken Biriyani recipe soon!

    2. I've added a chicken biriyani recipe , here's the link:

      You can use the same biriyani masla powder as my homemade version, which will add a lot more flavor.

  23. This is lovely!! i am surely going to make this for the next potluck at my office.

  24. Fish biriyani: This is healthy food for everyone. You describe this recipe easily. In my house cook it weekly one.

  25. Manju your recipe seems so delicious as we were planning a trip today and we thought to cook something at home to bring with us to the trip to eat it later so I found your blog its

    really nice thanks !! :)

  26. I'm extremely impressed with your writing talents as smmartly as with the layout in your blog.
    Is that this a paid subject or did you modify it your
    self? Either way stay up the excellent quality writing, it is uncommon to see a grfeat weblkog lijke this one these days..


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