Prawn biryani recipe – Aromatic basmati rice dum cooked with prawns, herbs & spice powders. Biryani is a delicious dish made by cooking fragrant basmati rice with meat, yogurt, spices & herbs. Chicken biryani & mutton biryani are the much popular versions loved by biryani lovers.
Prawn biryani is simply another variation made on the same lines just by replacing chicken & mutton with prawns or shrimps. Since the cook time for prawns is lesser the way I dum cook them in a biryani is different.
This prawn biryani recipe is the way I make for the foodies at home. It is much simpler to make than any other biryani varieties.
A simple salan or gravy, a raita or a bowl of fresh veggie salad goes well with this biryani. To keep the recipe simple, I have not used saffron, milk or even fried onions. So feel free to use all of them if you like the flavors of saffron & fried onions.
I have made this prawn biryani using fresh black tiger prawns. Any variety of fresh or frozen prawns or shrimps can be used.
If you are using frozen prawns or one that is not very fresh, i suggest soaking them in vinegar for a while and rinsing. To prepare the gravy i used little coconut milk. Packed or fresh homemade coconut milk can be used.
I do not like to use yogurt for prawn biryani, hence i have used coconut milk. Using coconut milk for sea food lends a good taste and flavor. This prawn biryani recipe works good with yogurt as well.
Preparation for prawn biryani
1. Drain the water completely from prawns, add chili powder, turmeric, salt & masala powder.
2. Marinate and rub them gently for a while with the marinade. Set aside for at least 30 minutes. You can also do this the previous night and refrigerate.
3. Wash and soak rice for about 30 minutes. Drain off completely. Bring 3 to 4 cups of water to a boil with salt, a bay leaf, 4 green cardamoms, 1/2 tsp shahi jeera. Add rice to the pot and cook until fully done but al dente. It should remain grainy, firm and not mushy.
How to make prawn biryani
4. Heat oil in a pan, Add bay leaf, shahi jeera, cloves, cardamom, star anise and cinnamon. Use just an inch of cinnamon, i used ceylon cinnamon hence used a bit more.
This shrimp biryani needs a little more oil than the other non-veg biryani recipes since prawns do not release much fats when cooked. Stick on to the quantity mentioned in the recipe else biryani may turn dry.
5. When they begin to splutter, add sliced onions. Separate the layers of onions before adding. Fry until brown or golden.
6. Browned onions lend a good flavor, so don’t skip this. You can set aside a few for garnishing. Add ginger garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes off.
7. Add chopped tomatoes, mint and coriander leaves. Cook until the tomatoes turn soft.
8. Next add turmeric, red chili powder, biryani masala powder . I also added a bit of coriander powder since my masala powder was very strong.
9. Cook until the oil begins to separate.
10. Add marinated prawns.
11. Fry just for a minute.
13. Let the flame remain low. Pour slightly thick coconut milk and stir. If you do not follow any food combining rules of compatibility you can use yogurt/curd as well instead of coconut milk.
14. Cook until the gravy thickens & prawns are cooked through. Prawns take just 3 minutes to cook. They curl up to C shape when cooked through. Off the stove and set the pan aside. The color of the gravy is dark due to the brown onions.
Layering prawn biryani
15. Grease a pot for dum process / slow steam process. Layer half of the rice.
16. Next layer the gravy.
17. Layer the rice. You can add 1/4 cup rice to the pan (used for cooking prawns), stir and add back the rice to the biryani pot. This makes the top layer colorful and flavorful without the use of saffron. Add coriander and mint leaves.
18. Cover with a foil or tight lid. Heat a griddle or tawa until hot enough. Place the biryani pot on the hot griddle / pan or tawa and dum / slow cook for 15 to 20 minutes on a very low flame.
Dum is a slow cooking method where steam is trapped in a pot by sealing the rim to prevent the steam from escaping. The food gets cooked due to trapped steam which makes the food flavorful and delicious.
Allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes after the dum.
Serve prawn biryani with onion and lemon wedges.
Tips to make prawn biryani
- Choose aged premium quality basmati rice as it cooks up to fluffy long grains.
- Soaking the rice & cooking in surplus water helps to get rid of starch and keep the grains non sticky.
- Overcooking prawns will make them hard. So just cook until they curl up to C shape.
- Layering the prawn masala over the rice is the key to the best texture of prawns.
- Avoid layering cooked prawns at the bottom of the pot as they continue to get cooked during the dum process.
Overcooked prawns often turn rubbery, chewy and hard.
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
Ingredients for prawn biryani rice
- 1¼ cups basmati rice
- 1 small bay leaf
- 2 to 3 green cardamoms
- ½ teaspoon shahi jeera (optional)
Biryani gravy ingredients
- 2 to 3 tablespoon oil or ghee
- 1 bay leaf or tej patta
- 1 inch cinammon or dalchini
- 1 small star anise
- 2 green cardamoms or elaichi
- 4 to 5 cloves
- ½ teaspoon shahi jeera or cumin
- 1 large onion sliced thinly
- 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 medium tomato deseeeded & chopped (optional)
- 2 tablespoon coriander leaves chopped finely
- 2 tablespoon mint leaves or pudina chopped
- 1 teaspoon biryani masala
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- salt as needed
- ¼ cup curd (yogurt) or coconut milk at room temperature
How to make the recipe
Preparation for prawn biryani
- Marinate prawns with ginger garlic paste, turmeric, biryani masala, red chilli powder & salt.
- Keep it aside for 30 minutes.
- Wash rice a few times and soak it for 30 minutes.
- Bring 3 to 4 cups of water to a rolling boil along with bay leaf, cardamoms, shahi jeera, 1 tsp oil and salt.
- Drain water and add it to the boiling water.
- Cook it al dente but not mushy. It must be firm. Drain the rice to a colander.
Making graving for shrimp
- Heat a pan with oil. Saute cloves, cinnamon, bayleaf, shahi jeera and star anise in hot oil.
- Fry onions until light golden brown stirring often.
- Next fry ginger garlic paste until the raw smell goes away.
- Saute tomatoes and mint, coriander leaves in the same pan.
- When the tomatoes turn mushy, add chili powder, biryani masala, salt and turmeric.
- Cook until the oil begins to ooze out. Add the prawns and fry just for a minute for the ginger garlic paste to loose the raw flavor.
- Pour curd or coconut milk and stir. Cook until the gravy thickens & the prawns cook fully.
- The prawns curl up to C shape when cooked. Do not over cook as they turn hard.
- Tiger prawns take only 3 mins to cook. Taste your gravy and add more salt if needed.
How to make prawn biryani
- Grease a pot for making biryani, add half of the rice to the pot. Level it evenly
- Add the prawn garvy and level it. Add the rest of the rice.
- Seal with a foil or tight lid and cook on a hot tawa or griddle for 20 minutes.
- Allow prawn biryani to rest for 15 minutes. Serve with a raita.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
- Avoid adding prawn gravy at the bottom as it over cooks the prawns.
- I have layered the gravy in the center and at the bottom to avoid overcooking the prawns.
- Avoid overcooking prawns as they turn hard & rubbery.
- Avoid using chilled coconut milk or yogurt. Bring it to room temperature and use.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
If you are new to cooking, follow my detailed step by step photo instructions for best results.