fish biryani

Fish biryani recipe

By Swasthi on August 8, 2022, Comments, Jump to Recipe

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.

fish biryani

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.

You can serve fish biryani with a raita or shorba.

You may also like to check these 35 Biryani recipes
Chicken biryani
Mutton biryani
Egg roast biryani
Prawn biryani
Malabar chicken biryani


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.

preparartion for fish biryani recipe

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.

roasting fish for hyderabadi fish biryani recipe

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.

frying onions for fish biryani recipe

5. We need to brown them lightly. Not completely browned as they get fried further. Set aside few onions for garnishing.

beresta for hyderabadi fish biryani recipe

6. Move the onions aside. Add spices and saute them till they begin to sizzle.

addition of spices for fish biryani recipe

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.

addition of ginger garlic for fish biryani recipe

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.

addition of spice powders for fish biryani recipe

9. Pour yogurt or coconut milk, stir it.

addition of coconut milk or yogurt for hyderabadi fish biryani recipe

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.

thick biriyani gravy for fish dum biryani recipe

Layer biryani

11. This step is optional. While the mixture cooks, heat milk and add saffron. Set this aside.

preparing saffron milk for fish dum biryani recipe

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.

layering cooked rice in a pot for fish biryani recipe

13. Next layer the gravy and then sprinkle some mint and coriander leaves.

layering biriyani gravy over rice to make hyderabadi fish biryani recipe

14. Then layer the fried fish. Also pour the left over stock from the fried fish if any.

layering fried fish over the gravy for fish dum biryani recipe

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.

repeat layering cooked rice for fish biryani recipe

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.

seal the pot for dum process to make fish biryani recipe

Serve fish biryani with onion raita.

fish biryani

Tips to make fish biryani

  1. Use premium quality basmati rice or any other fragrant short rice like jeeraga samba rice or keema rice.
  2. Ghee gives an authentic flavour to the fish biryani. However you can also use oil of your choice.
  3. 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.
  4. To make a kerala style fish biriyani, use coconut milk as a substitute to yogurt.
  5. 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.
  6. I have used seer fish or batang known as vanjaram. Any variety of fresh fish should work.
  7. Use spice powders in moderation as it dominates the original flavour of fish.

Related Recipes

Recipe card

fish biryani

Fish biryani recipe

Easy fish biryani made in dum style. Aromatic, flavorful and delicious restaurant style hyderabadi fish biryani. Serve alone or with a raita or salan.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time45 minutes

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

ingredients for marinade

  • 500 grams fish or half kg
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp biryani masala or garam masala
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1 to 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp salt or as needed


  • 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. 

Frying fish

  • 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)

Nutrition Facts
Fish biryani recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 599 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 92mg31%
Sodium 249mg11%
Potassium 878mg25%
Carbohydrates 85g28%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 44g88%
Vitamin A 485IU10%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Calcium 166mg17%
Iron 3.2mg18%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Fish biryani recipe

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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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Can I use frozen cod for this recipe?

Oh I forgot to say for 2kg fish

Hi I would like to know how much fine breyani mix should I use for fish breyani please.

4 stars
Dear swasthi, thanks for the recepie. just wanted to ask if l am using more than 500 gms fish in making biriyani, should l increase the amount of biriyani gravy or keep it the same as you mentioned.

thanks .. from USA

5 stars
Amazing recipe! Very easy to follow, biryani came out so good! Thanks

Can you give me the measurements of rice in grams or kegs pls

Can I substitute rose water for kewra?

5 stars
Fish biriyani is a family favorite, made this tonight using smoked haddock, absolutely gorgeous.

@Liji asked about this sizing, I say size it a you like best, my haddock broke up beautifully as I served it, but I’d always leave it whole when I fry it.

4 stars
I liked the explanation. Can we not cut the fish piece into smaller pieces?

5 stars
I made this with frozen basa fish and was a little hesitant about how it would taste but it turned out yummy! The hubby loved it! Just noticed one thing on adding curd the appearance was a little different than yours. Thinking the curd split. Anyway to prevent this?

Yes thanks ?

Amazing . I am a Reluctant cook, but using this recipe I could successfully make Fish Biryani. Thanks for writing it from the view of a novice.

5 stars
I always look for your receipe in utube. I’m like if it’s swathi’s then I can do it ?

Hi, i want to double the recipe and I’m using samba rice so just want to know if i should soak this type of rice as well like basmati or can i skip soaking?
And also could you pls tell how many cups of water do i need to boil for 3 cups of samba rice?

5 stars
Tried this recipe, while missing some ingredient that was called for, this dish was still very delicious. Thanks for sharing!

5 stars
Superb dear. Tks a lot

Superb recipe

5 stars
what are the measurement to be taken for 1 kg fish or 1 medium size king fish?

5 stars
Hi really very easy and yummy biryani dear my family loved it thank you so much

5 stars
wow!…it tastes awesome…….

5 stars
hi just to let you know i have just made the fish biryani and my friends just loved it. thank you so much.

5 stars
sorry I forgot to give rating- 5/5