Monday, 3 September 2012

Fish Biryani - Kerala Style

Belated Father's Day wishes to all Dad's out there....

Nowadays celebrations in our house is planned by my two "big" boys who already think that they should be on top of everything. Spring is here on time this year - the days are bright and sunny, the weather is getting warmer and flowers are blooming everywhere. While I was taking this as an opportunity for me to get lazy and bribe GC into taking us all out to the park and celebrate Father's Day with a bbq, my 'bosses' in the house had other plans. They knew they could handle a simple breakfast with tea (in the microwave) and toast with butter and jam for breakfast, they had to pull me in to prepare something high for lunch. There are no seconds thoughts about it - there has to be fish and chocolate.

GC, JK and MK loves fish biryani. And luck was playing it's part on the 3 boys because without any effort I came by some fresh Spanish Mackerel. (It is not always I get Spanish Mackerel at the my local Fish Shop and that too at the main fish market prices. It was a sign for me that I couldn't get lazy this Father's Day.) So Fish Biryani it was - again inspired by Mother's recipe. I served it with her special Carrot Raita which we always serve with Fish Biryani.

Now luck played its part on me only when I saw this Seafood Feast Event. I am well on time to send this recipe to the event. It is the first time I am joining an event in blogosphere. So wish me luck!

Serves: 6
Preparation Time: 1 hour + time to soak rice + time to marinate fish
Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hour


For Biryani Masala
  • 750g fish pieces, with bone, cleaned and skin removed (Spanish Mackerel, Pomfret, King Fish)
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 - 5 tbsp cooking oil, to shallow fry fish
  • 3/4 cup eschallots
  • 8 green chilly (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 cup brown onion, sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup greek yoghurt
  • 2 tsp biryani masala / 2 tsp garam masala + 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • Salt to taste
For Biryani Rice
  • 2 tbsp oil/ ghee
  • 2 medium sized bay leaf
  • 4 cardamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 small star anise, broken
  • 2 cups basmati rice, (I use India Gate)
  • 4 cups boiled water, to cook rice
  • 4 cups cold water, to soak rice
  • Salt to taste
To Garnish
  • 1 1/2 cup brown onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cashew nuts
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • 3 tbsp coriander leaves, torn
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 - 3 tbsp ghee to fry

For Gravy
1. Marinate fish pieces with salt and pepper and leave in refrigerator for at least 1 hr. Shallow fry fish pieces till well done and keep aside. Reserve 3 tbsp of oil in which fish was fried.
2. Coarsely grind eschallots and green chilly. Keep aside. Make a fine paste coconut and poppy seeds using as little water as possible. Keep aside.
3. In a pan, heat the reserved oil. Add ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant and then add coarsely ground eschallots and chilly. Stir for a few minutes until it starts to change colour. Now add onion and salt and saute' till its colour changes to light brown. Add mint and coriander leaves and stir for a minute. Then add pepper powder and turmeric powder, stir for 30 seconds, followed by yoghurt, biryani masala and coconut-poppy seed paste. Mix well. Add tomatoes and water. Bring to boil and then add fried fish pieces, mix well and simmer in low flame for 5 - 7 minutes. The gravy should not be flowing and not too thick.

Biryani gravy is ready.

For Biryani Rice
1. Soak rice in 4 cups of cold water for 20 minutes. Drain using a muslin cloth and let it hang for 10 minutes. (Do not over work on the muslin cloth with rice - this may cause rice to break.)
2. Heat oil or ghee in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add all spices and stir for a 5 seconds until fragrant, followed by rice and fry rice over low flame for a few minutes until rice turns just opaque. Now add 4 cups of boiled water and salt, mix well, close vessel with a lid and simmer over low-flame for 10 - 15 minutes until rice is just done and all water evaporates. Check after 10 minutes, but take care not to lift the lid until you are sure that rice is dry and done.

For Garnish
1. Heat ghee in frying pan, add sliced onions and fry till they turn brown and crisp. Remove and drain onions and then fry cashew nuts, till they are light brown on all sides, remove and drain them and finally add raisins, stir till they are plump (which takes only a few seconds), remove and drain.

Layer Rice, Gravy and Garnish to prepare Biryani
1. In a hot heavy bottomed vessel, spread half of the gravy with fish pieces. Top this with half the rice. Sprinkle half the lemon juice, coriander leaves, fried onions, cashew nuts and raisins. Top this with remaining gravy with fish pieces followed by rice, lemon juice, coriander leaves, fried onions, cashew nuts and raisins. Close with a tight fitting lid and leave vessel over low flame for 10 minutes. Remove from fire and wait for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve hot with carrot raita, pappadam and pickle.

Note: - To prepare a healthier version of fish biryani, I usually prepare the gravy and rice with normal cooking oil, but fry the onions, cashewnuts and raisins in ghee which is enough to impart that wonderful flavour of ghee to your biryani. 


  1. I love biryani but never made it with fish. Fish biryani looks delicious! Thanks for linking it to my event.

  2. I am used to chicken biryani, I think it's time to change, thanks for sharing

  3. Jannet,
    I tried this yummy biriyani. we really enjoyed the flavours.
    keep posting :-)

  4. Hi Gini...
    Greatly appreciate you for trying it out.

  5. Jannet,

    I tried this and came out really well.We all enjoyed it.Thanks for the recipe.


  6. for us in the Malabar area, fish biryani is almost a must.. really miss it :)

  7. I can't stop making this.The demand is huge.
    The only thing is I like to use only Spanish Mackeral,which we rarely get .
    Keep going Jannet