Fish biryani recipe – A simple Hyderabadi style fish dum biryani with step by step pictures. Fish biryani is a layered rice dish made with fish, basmati rice, spices & herbs. Biryani is most commonly made with chicken or mutton. However I made this biryani with fish few years ago for a weekend dinner & was surprised at how delicious it turned out. Since then I have made it so many times and has always been loved by my people.
I don’t prefer to cook elaborate meals during the weekends so often choose to prepare something quick yet delicious. This fish biryani is one of those that fits my choice.
Like chicken or mutton, fish doesn’t need much resting time after the marination. All the steps just go sequentially without any waiting time, plus the fish gets cooked quickly. So it an express recipe that just takes about 45 minutes.
Well to make this fish dum biryani recipe, you don’t need to be an expert in cooking. Even beginners can try it as it is super easy to make.
To make this fish biryani recipe, i used 2 large fish pieces that weighed above 220 grams each. You can use small ones too or even a fillet can be used.
If using small ones, you may need to increase slightly the quantity of ingredients for marinade. Take care not to use too much masala or ginger garlic paste since it may make the fish bitter.
1. Wash and soak 1.5 cups basmathi rice for about 20 to 30 minutes. Cook in 4.5 to 5 cups water till al dente.
For this fish biryani, rice should be just done and you should be able to feel the bite when you eat it. It gives a perfect biriyani grain after the dum.
You can also cook the rice with half tsp shahi jeera, few cardamoms, bay leaf. But they are not really needed since strong flavors and spices don’t go well in a fish biryani otherwise the flavor of fish is lost.
2. While the rice soaks, make a paste of the marination ingredients. Taste it to check the salt and spice levels. Set aside. Wash fish with salt. To remove fishy smell, you can also use vinegar to wash.
Drain water completely. Marinate and set aside till the rice gets cooked. Also slice the onions thinly and separate the layers. When the rice is done, drain it off to a colander.
How to make fish biryani
3. Heat a pan with one tbsp oil, add the fish and fry on both the sides till the fish gets cooked well. By then the masala also gets roasted well. This takes around 7 to 9 minutes depending on the thickness and the type of fish used.
Take care not to burn the fish or masala. Set this aside along with any oil or stock left in the pan. You can use a well seasoned cast iron or iron tawa to fry fish. A non stick may get scratches while flipping.
4. If you like to use cashews, you can fry them now and set aside. Add the rest of the oil and fry onions. Keep stirring often to fry them evenly.
5. We need to brown them lightly. Not completely browned as they get fried further. Set aside few onions for garnishing.
6. Move the onions aside. Add spices and saute them till they begin to sizzle.
7. Add ginger garlic paste, take care not to burn it as the pan is very hot. I switched off the stove for a while when i fried it. Make sure the raw smell of ginger garlic disappears.
8. This time I have not used tomato, but if you like to use, add it now and saute until it turns mushy completely. Add the spice powders, salt and give a quick stir. I switched on the stove after this step. I used biryani masala and coriander powder as well, since the biryani powder alone was strong.
9. Pour yogurt or coconut milk, stir it.
10. Cook on a medium flame till the mixture thickens. Set this aside when it is done, do not leave it on the stove as the gravy gets cooked further and the quantity reduces. If you like to add fish and coat it in the masala you can do it.
But it makes the fish quite moist and dunked in gravy. We prefer fish with gravy on one side and roasted masala on the other side. So i do not add them now.
11. This step is optional. While the mixture cooks, heat milk and add saffron. Set this aside.
12. Layer 1/2 of the cooked rice in a heavy bottom pot. I used the same pot which i used to cook rice. Do not use a wide pot for dum process since the quantity is less.
13. Next layer the gravy and then sprinkle some mint and coriander leaves.
14. Then layer the fried fish. Also pour the left over stock from the fried fish if any.
15. Lastly layer the left over rice again. Layer fried onions, mint and coriander leaves and pour the saffron milk. If you like to add fried nuts you can. Sprinkle kewra water.
16. Cover it with a tight lid or foil. The day i made this dum biryani, i did not have foil. so just went ahead with a lid. As such a dum fish biryani doesn’t generate much steam to trap like a chicken or mutton biryani.
So it is just fine to go ahead with a well placed lid or a moist cloth with a lid.
Heat a pan or tawa until hot, place the biryani pot on the tawa and cook on a high flame for 2 minutes and then on a very low flame for just 10 minutes. Allow it to rest for about 15 minutes, before you serve.
For the dum process, any heavy bottom iron pan or steel pan can be used.
Serve fish biryani with onion raita.
Tips to make fish biryani
- Use premium quality basmati rice or any other fragrant short rice like jeeraga samba rice or keema rice.
- Ghee gives an authentic flavour to the fish biryani. However you can also use oil of your choice.
- Do use a good quality biryani masala powder or garam masala powder. I have used this homemade biryani masala. To make it kerala style, you can follow this thalessery biryani post and make kerala biryani masala.
- To make a kerala style fish biriyani, use coconut milk as a substitute to yogurt.
- I have not used tomato in this biryani as it is not used in a hyderabadi biryani. However you can also use it following my instructions in the recipe card.
- I have used seer fish or batang known as vanjaram. Any variety of fresh fish should work.
- Use spice powders in moderation as it dominates the original flavour of fish.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
ingredients for marinade
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 star anise or biryani flower
- 1 inch cinnamon or dalchini
- 4 to 6 cloves
- 3 green cardamoms or ealichi
- ½ tsp shahi jeera
Biriyani gravy ingredients
- 2½ to 3 tbsp oil
- ¾ cup onions thinly sliced and layers separated
- 1 small tomato deseeded, chopped finely(optional)
- 1 small strand mace or javitri
- 1 ¼ tsp ginger garlic paste
- ¾ to 1 tsp garam masala powder or biryani masala powder
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp red chili powder
- ¾ cup yogurt or curd(semi thick) or coconut milk
- 1 tsp kewra water
- 2 tbsp mint or pudina chopped finely
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves or daniya patta chopped finely
- pinch saffron or kesar (optional)
- 2 tbsp milk
- salt as needed
for biryani rice
- 1 ½ cups basmathi rice
- salt as needed
- 1 tsp oil
Preparation for fish biryani
- Mix together all the marination ingredients except fish. Taste the marinade to check the spice and salt. Marinate the fish and set aside till the rice gets cooked.
- This step is optional. Soak saffron in warm milk. set aside.
- Wash basmati rice under running water until the water runs clear. Then soak for at least 20 to 45 mins. Follow the instructions on the pack for the timing. Drain the rice to a colander.
- Bring 6 to 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot of water. Pour 1 tsp oil and then add salt.
- Add the drained rice and cook till aldente. Do not make the rice mushy. It must be cooked fully but must be firm and grainy.
- Drain the cooked rice to a colander.
- Fry the fish in little oil on both the sides till the fish gets cooked and the masala turns golden. Set this aside along with any stock or oil left in the pan.
- Add more oil to the pan and fry onions till lightly golden. Stir often while you fry. Set aside a few for garnish.
Making fish biryani
- To the same pan, add spices and fry them for a minute.
- Add ginger garlic paste and fry until the raw smell goes off. If using tomato, add it now and cook until it turns soft. Add biryani or garam masala and coriander powder, red chili powder and fry quickly.
- Pour yogurt or coconut milk and stir. Cook till the mixture thickens. Set this aside.
- Add half of the rice to the biryani pot or handi, layer the gravy, add some chopped mint and coriander leaves. layer the fried fish along with oily stock if any.
- Layer the rice again and then sprinkle coriander leaves, mint leaves and fried onions. pour the saffron milk. Sprinkle kewra water.
- Seal it with a foil and put it on a hot tawa. Cook on high flame for 2 minutes and very low flame for 10 minutes.
- Allow fish biryani to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
how to make onion raita for biryani
- Slice thinly 1 large onion, chop chilies and coriander leaves. You can deseed the chilies. Whisk one cup curd/ yogurt/dahi with salt, add the chopped ingredients and mix. You can add more or less curd as desired. Cumin powder can also be used. It aids in digestion.
- ½ tsp shahi jeera, 1 bay leaf, 3 green cardamoms, 4 cloves,1 cinnamon stick can be added to the rice pot while cooking it.
- If using frozen fish, after marination do not leave it for longer than 10 to 15 minutes. I have found that the ginger garlic makes the fish break quickly while getting cooked.
- I have layered rice first and then the masala followed by fried fish. You can also layer the masala first and then the fish followed by rice.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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