Every now & then I browse through my recipe index to see the categories that I've created and the recipes that are very popular till date - many of which I have never expected to go so viral. The Chicken Curry Without Coconut is one such recipe which has received a lot of unexpected fame. However, I noticed that there are a few recipes that have gone unnoticed - they were posted much before the blog became so popular. It is one of my favourite recipes and I have made it several times over. It is my mum's sister's recipe which is simple yet delicious. I have to admit that it is not completely from scratch.
The wonderful flavour & aroma that makes this biryani different from the other home made ones is the use of store bought biryani masala
After Roshan & I first ate it at my aunt's place here in Dubai we went crazy about it and bought a million packets of Shaan Fish Biryani masala and I made it several times thereafter in Mumbai. You could use any brand of fish biryani masala powder. If you like, you may even skip it - in which case the recipe is almost the same as Mum's Chicken Green Biryani (the current popular recipe).
I am re-posting this recipe simply because its a good recipe that deserves attention (you may see my old post here). I have also added more details to the recipe so that it helps first timers too.
Last but not the least, food snobs believe that there is no such thing as a 'fish biryani'. It is either mutton or chicken that deserves to get married to the rice. Well, I am not sure about the rest of the world, but seafood biryani (fish & prawn) exists in South India - especially in Mangalorean & Malabar kitchens and is a hot selling item on the menu of many parties at home.
Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time : 1 hour | Serves 4
Recipe Source: My aunt Frenny
For the rice
- 3 cups long grain basmati rice, washed & soaked for 20 mins
- 6 cups of liquid (plain water or a mixture of water & gravy)
- 3 Indian bay leaves
- 1 stick cinnamon/cassia bark
- 5-6 cloves
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped stalk of coriander
- ghee for frying
- salt to taste
For lightly marinating the fish:
- plain red chilli powder to taste (you may use bafat powder)
- turmeric powder (optional)
For the fish gravy
- 4-5 large slices (palm sized) of King Fish (Surmai/Anjal) or approx 750-800 grams of white fish fillets
- 1-1/2 - 3/4th packet of fish biryani masala (I used Shaan masala)
- 1 cup (240-250 ml) thick curds, whipped & lump free
- 2 medium sized onions finely sliced
- 1 juicy tomato finely chopped
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 sprig curry leaves/karipatta
- Ghee for frying
- Salt to taste
- For the green masala:
- 1 cup coriander leaves
- 6-7 sprigs of mint leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin/jeera
- 2 inches ginger
- 6-7 cloves garlic
- 2-3 green chillies (adjust to taste) * see notes
- 1 marble size ball of tamarind
- 2 medium sized onions finely sliced
- 1/2 cup cashewnut halves
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander (optional)
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
Prepare the garnishing
1. In a heavy bottomed pan (use the same pan to make the fish gravy), heat some ghee and fry the onions till they turn golden brown. Reduce the flame when they begin to brown or they will burn quickly. Drain off excess ghee and then spread them out on a plate to cool. Fry the cashewnuts and raisins one by one in the same ghee. Remove & cool.
Prepare the fish gravy
1. Clean the fish with salt, vinegar & turmeric & set aside for 15 mins. Rinse in fresh water and place on a colander to drain off. Pat dry and apply a marinade of red chilly or bafat powder, salt & vinegar & set aside for 30 mins. Fry the fish lightly, remove & allow to cool. If you are using king fish carefully remove the skin & bones to ensure that the pieces don't break.
2. Mix the biryani masala with the curds and keep aside. Lightly fry the chopped tomatoes in a small non stick pan till it turns mushy. Grind all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the green masala' to a fine paste. Reserve the masala water from the mixie.
3. Heat ghee on a medium flame in a heavy bottomed pan and add the curry leaves and onions and fry them till golden. Add the curd & masala mixture and fry well. Toss in the bay leaves and fry.
4. Add the ground masala and continue to fry till the mixture turns to a brownish green. Mix in the fried tomato. Add the reserved masala water and adjust the consistency of the gravy to medium thickness.
5. When the gravy begins to bubble carefully add the fried fish pieces and cover them with the gravy. Allow it to simmer for a minute (do not overcook as the fish is already fried) and turn off the flame.
Prepare the rice
1. Completely drain off the washed & soaked basmati rice. Heat the ghee on medium flame & fry the cinnamon & cloves. Add the rice and fry it on low heat till it begins to feel heavy.
2. You can now add 6 cups of freshly boiled plain water to the rice or to make it more flavourful, add a combination of freshly boiled water and gravy from the prepared fish curry (retain only enough gravy to coat the fish pieces). This combination should be a total of 6 cups (use the same cup that was used to measure the rice).
3. Mix the rice & liquid mixture, check salt to taste and adjust accordingly (remember that the fish gravy already has salt in it), toss in the chopped coriander stalks and lime juice if required.
4. When the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat completely, cover the pan with a well fitting lid and cook for exactly 5 minutes (keep a timer!) Turn off the flame and let the pan sit undisturbed for 15 minutes. Open the pan, fluff up the rice with a fork.
Layer & assemble
1. Layer the bottom of a greased pan with the cooked rice, sprinkle a tablespoon of chopped mint & coriander leaves, a few fried cashewnuts & raisins and fried onions. Continue to layer in the same fashion until all the ingredients have been used up.
2. Serve hot with a simple raitha.