February 26, 2008

Fish Biryani


We recently celebrated our second wedding anniversary. Like last year, we went out for our anniversary dinner and then enjoyed a special meal the next day.

This year we went to Pacific Rim, a pan-asian restaurant. It is small and cozy, just the place we had in mind for the the dinner. The entire meal was wonderful. We started with Calamari, which was crunchy on the outside, and soft inside. The entrees - we both ordered fish - were done to perfection. Juicy and delicious with spices that flavored the fish but didn't overwhelm the taste. For dessert, we tried the molten chocolate cake, and there's nothing like tasting it and thinking 'this is how mine tastes too!'

For the next day dinner, I had a challenge. Last year we had a delicious anniversary dinner. And I wanted to make something different this year. After much deliberation, I decided to make fish biryani. Now, I've had some delicious biryanis over the years, but have never made it at home. But I decided to take on the challenge. And I have to tell you that I was so pleased with the result. It was delicious and now that I have done it once, I can't wait to make it again.


Ingredients: (Serves 4-6 people)
For marinating the fish:
4-5 pieces firm white fish
1 tspoon chilli powder
1/2 tspoon turmeric powder
1 tspoon lemon juice
Salt to taste
2 tbspoon oil for shallow frying the fish

For masala:
4 medium onions- chopped thinly
2 medium tomatoes- chopped thinly
1" ginger- grated
4 cloves garlic- grated
2-3 green chillies - chopped thinly
2/3 cup cilantro leaves - rough paste
1/3 cup mint leaves- rough paste
2/3 cup yogurt
1/2 tspoon turmeric powder
1/2 tspoon red chilli powder
1 tspoon lemon juice
1 tspoon biryani masala (see below)
Salt to taste

For rice:
2 1/2 cups rice
1 big roll cinnamon
4 cloves
3 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
1 Bay leaf
1 tspoon lemon juice
For garnish: handful walnuts, almonds, raisins, cranberrries

For biryani masala: (I thought about getting readymade masala, then decided against it)

1 big roll cinnamon
4 cloves
3 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
1 Bay leaf
1 tspoon fennel seeds
1 tspoon coriander seeds
1/2 tspoon cumin seeds
1 dry red chilli
1/2 nutmeg
Dry roast it together and then grind it to a fine powder and then store in an airtight container.

Fish: Marinate the fish with the masala and keep it aside for a couple of hours. Shallow fry them and then set it aside. Since the fish will be cooked further, don't fry it crisp. Keep the fish oil for making the fish curry.

Garnish: Fry the nuts and raisins, cranberries and keep it aside. Then take about 1/4 of the onions and fry it till it gets brown and crisp. Keep it aside for the garnish.

Rice: Soak the rice for 10-15 minutes. Then boil 4-5 cups water with all the masalas and salt. Once the water starts boiling, put in the rice and let it cook for 10-12 minutes. Cook till the rice is half done, not fully cooked. Drain the rice, and set it aside. Keep the water for making the fish curry.

Fish curry (masala): Heat the fish oil and saute the ginger, garlic and green chillies. Then add the onions and saute till they start turning brown. Then add the tomatoes and cook till it turns soft. Then add the cilantro leaves, mint leaves, turmeric, chilli powder, yogurt, biryani masala, lemon juice, salt and let it cook for 5-10 minutes till everything mixes together. Add 1/2 or 3/4 cup water kept from rice, if necessary. Add the fish pieces and take it off the heat.

Layering the biryani: Use a deep dish for layering the biryani. Put a layer of rice, and then alternate it with a layer of fish curry. Top it off with rice and then cover it with crisp onions and nuts, raisins and cranberries. Cover it with a lid and cook it in a 250 deg preheated oven for 30-40 minutes till the biryani is done.


Serve warm and serve with raita, pickle, or chutney.

This special one-dish meal is going to Meeta's Monthly Mingle 18. Thanks for hosting Meeta.


  1. Congrats on your anniversary Mandira... Wish you both years of love and happiness ahead!
    I remember you talking about a Pan Asian restaurant you've been considering... Glad it was a great experience.

    Biryani looks great, I've never made fish biryani! What white fish did you use?

  2. never made biriyani before! and never even tasted fish biryani before cuz fish tastes horrible in hyderabad.

  3. Happy Anniversary and wish you both many years of happiness ahead!

  4. Happy anniversary, M!
    Love love Biryanis, me too posted it today..! :)

  5. Congrats from me to you too! I do not ever think I have had a fish biryani - what a unique idea. Lovely!

  6. Happy 2nd wedding anniversary to you both Mandira and Aswin!
    On special occasions, it's better to cook the old fashioned way instead of using store bought one. Good job. Looks good although I have never eaten Fish Biryani. Enjoy and take care, hugs to you!:))

  7. Congragulations with you secon wedding anniversery.
    Fish biriyani looks delicious, I hav e never ate fish biriyani, biut this looks super delicious.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Congrats on your second anniversary...wish you many more :-)
    I've tried my hand at biryani a couple of times now, but never with fish...you're tempting me with your lovely dish.

  10. i have never made fish briyani before. i will try this one

  11. Congratulations and wishing you many more years of togetherness and marital bliss :)

  12. Happy Anniversary !! Hope u have year filled with happiness & joy ! Biryani looks Great.

  13. Anonymous9:40 PM

    Oh, that looks and sounds wonderful, Mandira! Wishing you both a very happy anniversary, and many more to come! :)

  14. Mandira, just checked my mail and replied to you. Most of my mails are going to others spam folder these days, so letting you know here!:)

  15. Congratulations on your anniversary.

    Fish biryani is new to me.

  16. Anonymous1:37 PM

    The biryani looks great! I love fish biryani's!


  17. Sig - thanks. Yeah, we tried it for the first time and really enjoyed it. I used a fresh fish from a local fish market (I forget the name), has a cod like consistency. I was struggling with the name while writing the post. Will do a update soon.

    Nags - I have never made any biryani before:) I am so inspired to try more.

    Thanks Sra, Meeta, Super Cook. It was certainly a unique and delicious treat.

    Thanks Seena. Your biryani looks super delicious :)

    Asha - thanks. I think I am going to make something new for our anniversary dinner.

    Sunita - thanks, you should try fish biryani, it has a complex taste, and using fresh fish enhances the flavor even more. I want to try making it with ilish once!

    Thanks Priya, Shn, Pooja V, Linda for your wishes.

    Cynthia, Mona - thanks. Do try and let me know how it turns out.

  18. Happy 2nd wedding anniversary to you both of You.
    On special occasions, it's better to cook the old fashioned way instead of using store bought one. Looks good although I have never eaten Fish Biryani. Enjoy it.
    Hope You had a great time together.


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