Fish Biriyani in Kerala style

Biriyani is one of  the most favorite main course dishes of  all Indian restaurant whether it is North or South Indian..the list in the menu card goes like this..Chicken biriyani,mutton biriyani,prawns biriyani,Fish biriyani & egg biriyani and coming to the vegetarian biriyanis like mushroom,paneer,vegetable(baby potato) and so on.Usually we non veggies prefer Chicken or mutton biriyani from restaurants.So this time for last Christmas i have tried this fish biriyani for the second time.Previously i made this fish biriyani for a good friend who stayed with us for a day and he like it..So thought of making it again for Christmas.One more reason for making fish instead of mutton or Chicken was we already had Chicken biriyani and mutton kuruma with naan for Dion's birthday.So making of Fish biriyani was totally fixed.I have used King fish (Neymeen)for this biriyani.It was good as a gravy for a biriyani.You can use any type of good flesh fish like promfet,Tilapia etc.You can either fry this marinated fish or simply bake them in oven for 30-50 minutes.(both sides).

Ingredients needed

1.Fish - 1 Kg( i used King fish)
2.Basmati rice - 4 cups
3.Onion- 3 large or  5 medium
4.Tomato - 2 big or 3 small
5.Green Chilli - 3
6.Fish masala - 2 Tb sp
7.Chilli powder - 1 Tb sp
8.Turmeric powder - 1/2 Tsp
9.Garam masala - 1 Tsp
10.Pepper powder - 1 Tsp
11.Salt - to taste
12.Lime juice of 1 lime
13.Coriander leaves - 1 bunch
14.Cashews - 14-15 nos
15.Raisins - 10-15 nos
16.Water - 9 cups
17.Ginger - garlic paste - 2 Tb sp
18.Mint (pudhina) - 1 handful


1.Marinating Fish

  • Clean and cut fish in medium sized pieces. 
  • Make a paste of the powders given below and apply to the cleaned fish and keep it in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
 List of ingredients for marinating 1 Kg Fish

  • Chilli powder                -    1 Tb sp
  • Turmeric Powder        -  ½ Ts sp
  • Coriander Powder       - 1 Tb sp
  • Fish  Masala                 - 2 Tb sp
  • Garam Masala              - 1 Ts sp
  • Ginger Garlic Paste     - 2 Tb sp
  • Salt                                 -to taste

  • Shallow fry the fish pieces and keep aside.or you can simply bake it in oven.Saute few chopped ginger n garlic and onions.
  • When the onion cooks nicely add tomato puree and cook until the raw smell goes.
  • Add 1 Tsp Garam masala n 1 Tsp Fish masala to the gravy and saute it.When the raw smell goes, and oil becomes clear,add the fried fish pieces and 1 cup water.Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  • .If you want more spicy biriyani you can add 2-3 green chillies(slited) to the gravy while cooking.
  • After 20 minutes if the gravy looks more loose,open the lid and cook for 5 minutes in medium flame and switch off the flame.Fish roast  is ready.

 3. Preparing the rice
  • Rice – 4 cups
  • Water- 8 cups(add 1 cup extra)
  • Lime juice of 1 lime
  • Use long, good quality Biriyani rice  for the  preparation,since the rice itself gives a special aroma. 
  • For 1 cup of rice take 2 cup water .It should be mentioned  in the Biriyani Rice packet.So check your rice packet before measuring rice and water.(ratio differs for each rice varieties) 

Spices Used
  • Cinnamon – 4 medium sticks                                
  • Clove – 10
  • Cardamom -5
  • Black Pepper – 10
  • Bay Leaves – 4
  • Star Anise - 2(optional)
  • Cumin seeds - a few(optional)
  • Soak the rice for 20 minutes in water. Wash well till the water runs clear. Drain all the water.
  • Boil 9 cups of water in a large vessel(heavy bottom).You can also cook half portion of the rice at a time if you don't have big pan.So remember to add half portion of water too(for 2 cups of rice ,add 4.5 cups water.)At that time,you can even add turmeric powder to one set of rice.[This time i did that] and next batch without that you can layer it nicely.
  • Add all spices which I have listed,to the water. Also add required amount of salt to the water.
  • When the water gets boil, add all the drained rice with few drops of oil or ghee and   lemon juice(1 full lemon) which helps to reduce the sticking of rice.
  • When the rice is half cooked(by that time water will reduce) drain out the rice with all spices to another container and keep aside for layering.
How to check whether rice is half cooked:
  • Water is about to drain and rice becomes curve shaped and if we try to break the rice  it will break.
  • So this stage of rice is the correct time to drain the half cooked rice.
4. Preparing the saffron-milk:
  •  Take 1/4th cup warm milk in a cup and dissolve saffron strands in the milk.Use a little bit of red/orange food colour or turmeric instead of saffron for those who don't have saffron.
  • Cover and wait for 20 minutes. Add Biriyani essence or Pine apple essence to  the milk for getting more flavor(I didn’t use these essence, Its optional.) . Mix well, cover and keep aside.
  Fried Onions,Golden Raisins,Cashews and our herbs(cilantro n mint)

5. Layering the fish Biriyani and Tawa Dum technique

  • Take a large heavy bottom pan with tight fitting lid.
  •  Melt the ghee on low heat. Turn and rotate the pan carefully so the ghee can coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Switch off the heat.
  • Add a layer of cooked rice, then cooked fish pieces with few gravy and sprinkle saffron/colour water, add fried onion slices herbs(cilantro n mint)and ghee/fat.
  • Again add a layer of rice, then fish with gravy,fried onions,herbs and ghee...goes on like this till you are done. Top and bottom layer will be rice.
  • Cover with chopped mint(pudhina) and cilantro(coriander),fried onions and juice of half a lemon.
  • Add the prepared Saffron- milk mixture randomly on the top of rice.
  • Cover with a tight fitting lid. Seal the pan with flour dough or aluminium foil, then put the lid. Keep the heat to lowest. And cook the Biryani in this 'Dum' process for 20 minutes.
  • Make sure your pan is heavy-bottomed other wise  rice will burn. Or you can place a flat tawa with some water and then keep the pan on that tawa.
  • Instead you can keep the biriyani in a conventional oven at 350°F for 30 minutes for Dum process.In this case,cover tightly the glass ware or that  dish with aluminium foil.
  • After 30 minutes switch off the heat and let the biriyani stand for another 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  • Decorate  plates of rice with fried onions, fried nuts and raisins. Serve with raita, salad, pappad and lemon pickle .


  • Cut all the needed onion,tomato,green chillies,ginger,garlic while the fish is in refrigerator.
  • Cut onion into thin slice for frying(used for layering) and also fry this onion.cashews n raisins in ghee for more flavour.
  • Prepare pappad,boiled eggs n salad in between
  • Serve hot.

Have a nice day

Kottayam Kitchen


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