Sunday, February 3, 2013

Kerala Fish Biryani

"The Belly rules the mind." - Spanish Proverb

The soul reason I made this for dinner Friday night was because my elder sister had mailed me pics of what she had made for lunch.
Fish Biryani. Her husband loves it.
It was so mouth-watering to look at that I just had to have it!
So I made it!

I love biryanis. I prefer chicken thou. I like mutton biryani only if the mutton is tender and juicy.
My husband had got some fresh King Fish on his way back from Jummah prayer. And everything else I had at home... just needed to get a good recipe. I have never made fish biryani before.. needed to find a good one...

While searching in Google (as usual :) ) for a good fish biryani recipe I came to this amazing site ( ) This site is awesome!! I love the photography! The pics would tempt even those who hate cooking into making it. You just have to check this site. I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do. And the fish biryani recipe I got from it was perfect. I'm no great shakes at fish biryani, but I loved the resultant biryani I managed to cook up in my kitchen :)

As usual I got a bit too excited with the turmeric.. :) My biryanis are always very yellow :D
Once I remember (a few months after marriage back when we were in Bangalore) I made prawns biryani which had sooo much turmeric in it that our hands were all yellow even after washing it with soap :P

So here's how I made it:

1/2 kg King fish... there'll be about 6 steaks..
2 and 1/2 cups of basmati rice (I use the Mumtaz Basmati rice we get here in Dubai)
3 big onions sliced finely
2 large tomatoes chopped
1.5 tbsp of garlic(crushed)
1.5 tbsp of ginger(crushed)
Green chillies, sliced (add according to how spicy hot you want it)
1.5 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 tbsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbsp chilli powder (Add only if u need more chilli to ur masala!!)
3-4 cloves, cardamom and 2-3 small pieces of cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp lemon juice
A handful of fresh coriander and mint leaves chopped
Sunflower oil (traditionally biryani is made using ghee but i prefer sunflower oil)
Salt according to taste
Some roasted almonds and cashew nuts for garnishing

While making a fish biryani its best to fry the fish lightly first so that it does not break while making the masala and mixing with rice.

So for the marination part we will need:
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 and 1/2 tbsp chilli powder (Here u can use the Kashmiri chilli powder if u have. It will give a nice red colour to the fish)
1 tbsp of vinegar
Salt according to taste
(All this u can adjust according to how u like your fish, after all that's the best thing about cooking at home: You can eat food exactly the way you like it.)

Now first marinate the cleaned fish and keep aside.
Wash rice and cook it in a heavy bottom vessel with enough water. Add 1-2 tbsp oil and a little salt to it. Keep checking the rice. When its almost cooked (kinda like 3/4 cooked... is there something like 3/4 cooked? :) but u get my point, right? It should be a little more than half cooked but not completely cooked) drain water using a colander and keep it aside.

Next we fry the fish
Place a big wide pan with lid (big enough to accommodate the masala + rice) on the stove, put 5-6 tbsp of oil. When the oil is hot fry the fish in it lightly. Mine went a bit over cooked at one side as u can see...

After you've removed the fish from oil and done with frying,  put cloves, cardamom and cinnamon sticks into that same oil. Saute it for a minute and then add the sliced onions. When the onions soften and starts browning a little add the ginger and garlic. Add tomatoes & green chilies when the raw smell of the garlic disappears. Now mix in the turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, salt and lemon juice. You will know the tomatoes are cooked when u can see that all the water in it has evaporated and oil starts accumulating on the sides. Now this is one tip from that site which i really liked: To debone one of the fried fish and mix the shredded pieces in the masala.
Add some of the mint and coriander leaves now.. Keep some aside for garnishing...

Switch off stove, place the fried fish on top of the masala and  cover with lid.

Now for the layering...
(Usually when I make biryani just for me and my husband, I put the cooked rice on top of the masala(It'll be rice for 2.. so not much there for layering)... roast some almonds and cashew nuts in 3 tbsps of oil... put that on top of the rice and pour that same oil, in which I roasted the nuts, on top. Cover it up and place in oven for 10-15 minutes on 175 degree C. That's why I make the masala in a pan big enough to hold the rice too...
I mix up the rice and masala 5 minutes before serving... garnish with a few mint and coriander leaves)

Anyway, layering really is like this(using a heavy bottom vessel):
The bottom most layer should be a bit of the fish masala. Keep all the fish outside. Mix fish with rice only while serving. This is not a must.. its just to make sure they dont break into pieces.
Now make the second layer with rice over the masala layer. Sprinkle lemon juice, garam masala powder, fried onion, roasted cashewnuts, almonds and coriander leaves over this (I didnt do this. I didnt even have coriander leaves for this biryani. It didnt make a noticeable difference thou. But mint should always be there in the masala... it gives more of a biryani flavour than coriander does)

Then reapt with masala layer then rice... The topmost layer must be the rice...
Cover with lid and place in oven for about 10-15 minutes on 175 degree C. Or place it on stove on low heat for 5-10 minutes.

Serve with the fish :)

This was my first try at Fish Biryani and Alhamdulillah it turned out good.
My taste buds loved it :)
That's the best part of cooking.... we make the way we like :)