Lightly spiced fish biryani made with a yogurt biryani sauce and cooked in one pot with layered fish, rice and saffron. Served up with fresh coriander and yogurt dip topped with chilli flakes and oil
Fish biryani recipe
Biryani isn’t really a curry – its a rice dish, a rice dish thats sealed in the pan and then ‘baked’ on the stove. Theres no ‘curry gravy’ going on here. If you are looking for something a little more saucy then a Thai green curry, chicken tikka masala or chicken and almond curry should do the trick. For a veggie option I always, always opt for a warming and aromatic red lentil tarka dahl.
There is, however, a lovely, creamy, biryani marinade in this recipe. Its used to initially flavour the fish, but is then mostly soaked up into the rice during cooking. The meat for this dish goes in raw and traditionally the biryani recipe uses mutton. However, to keep this dish nice and light and easy to cook I’ve opted for cod. But any white chunky fish would work well here. I do love a good fish and rice dish and I’m always on the look out for anything that makes this combination a little more interesting. Like my fish kedgeree, haddock and rosemary risotto or giant wild rice salad with salmon and eggs.
To produce perfectly cooked rice in a biryani dish, the rice should be briefly cooked to al dente in a pan of simmering water, before transferring to the dum biryani (cooking pot). Traditional recipes and the recipe below use basmati rice, which should fluff up nicely at the end of the cooking process.
A mixture of Indian spices are used in a biryani. These include ground coriander, chilli powder and turmeric. The other main spice is biryani masala, however, in this recipe I have used garam masala, which is a more accessible spice. If you would prefer to use biryani masala you can prepare this yourself at home. Have a look at this biryani masala recipe for further details.
What is Dum Biryani?
Traditionally dum biryani is the description of the cooking process. Dum means cooking on low and effectively baking the dish in a sealed container. In this recipe I have tried to replicate this process by cooking the fish biryani is a large pan with the lid on and over a low heat on the stove. The dish is cooked like this for 20 minutes, allowing the fish and rice to cook through until the fish flakes into pieces and the rice is fluffy.
How to make Fish Biryani
- In a large bowl mix together the ground coriander, chilli powder, garam masala powder, turmeric, and garlic ginger paste.
- Next, add yogurt to the spice mix and combine together to form a paste
- Add the fish to the biryani paste and coat well. Then set to one side and allow to marinade for at least 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile fry off diced onions and sliced green chillies in a large pan. Cook until golden brown and just starting to char.
- Remove the onions from the heat and add the marinated fish and all the sauce.
- Layer al dente rice (simmered in water for 3 minutes only) over the top of the fish
- Add lemon juice and saffron soaked in water
- Place on the lid and cook on the stove on low for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes remove the lid, mix well and garnish with chopped coriander
How do you keep biryani rice from sticking to the pan?
To stop the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan during cooking place the fish and marinade sauce in the bottom of the pan before the rice and make sure the base is fully covered. Diced tomatoes can also be added to the base along with the fish to fully ensure that the rice doesn’t stick.
How long can you keep fish biryani in the fridge?
The biryani will keep well in the fridge for 48 hours. Ensure that the biryani is fully cooled before refrigerating.
Can you freeze and reheat rice dishes?
Yes rice dishes can be frozen and reheated, just ensure the rice is completely cooled before going in the freezer. When reheating make sure the rice is fully defrosted then, for best results add a splash of water and reheat in the microwave.
For the rice:
- 300 g Uncooked white basmati rice
- 600 ml boiling water
- Pinch of salt
For the biryani marinade:
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp hot chilli powder
- 1 tsp Garam Masala
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp Garlic ginger paste
- 250 g whole plain natural yogurt
- 600 g boneless and skinless cod fillets
For the biryani
- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 200 g Red onions finely chopped
- 5 small green chillies chopped
- A few Saffron strands
- 1 juice of a lemon
- Fresh coriander
- Extra yogurt
- chilli flakes
- Large bowl
- Large pan for cooking rice
- Large shallow pan with lid
To make the rice
- Add 300g of uncooked rice to a large pan the cover with approximately 600ml boiling water from the kettle. Add a pinch of salt then simmer on medium heat for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes drain and rinse under the cold tap to cool the grains and stop the cooking process. At this point the rice should be barely cooked (al dente). The rice will be fully cooked through later, for now, set to one side.
To make the biryani marinade:
- In a large bowl mix together 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp hot chilli powder, 1 tsp garam masala powder, 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, and 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste.
- Next, add 250g whole plain yogurt to the spice mix and combine together to form a paste.
- Add the fish to the biryani paste and mix to coat well. Then set to one side and allow to marinade for at least 20 minutes.
To make the biryani
- Whilst the fish in marinating, fry off 200g diced red onions and 5 sliced green chillies in a large pan (one with a lid). Cook until golden brown and just starting to char. Remove the pan from the heat and add the marinated fish and all the sauce.
- Next layer the al dente rice over the top of the fish followed by a squeeze of lemon juice and saffron strands soaked in water for 2 minutes.
- Place the lid on the pan and cook on the stove on low for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes remove the lid, mix well and garnish with chopped coriander.
- Serve with extra yogurt topped with oil and chilli flakes (optional)