Prep time: 20 mins+1 hour marinating time | Cook time: 15-20 mins | Assembling time: 5-8 mins | Serves 4-6
For the prawns
- 1 kg prawns, de veined and cleaned
- 3 onions, finely chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons ghee
- a few curry leaves (optional)
For the marinade:
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup thick curds (yogurt)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- salt to taste
For the masala:
- 5 Kashmiri chillies * see notes
- 4 Bedgi chillies, de seeded if you wish * see notes
- 8-10 peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek *see notes
- 12 garlic flakes with skin
- 1/2 tsp tamarind paste or 1 marble size tamarind soaked in 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 cup (loosely packed) coriander leaves
- 1/2 cup (loosely packed) mint leaves
For the rice:
- 4 cups basmati rice, washed and soaked for 20 mins
- 8 cups water or chicken stock * see notes
- 2 tablespoons ghee or oil
- 1 medium sized onion finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons of ginger & garlic paste
- 3-4 cloves
- 1 inch piece of cinnamon or cassia bark
- 2-3 cardamoms
- 2 small bay leaves
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- salt to taste (adjust it if you are using chicken stock or stock cubes which already contain salt)
- 1 medium sized onion finely sliced and fried till golden brown
- raisins and cashew nuts if desired, lightly fried in ghee till golden
- 1/2 cup chopped coriander and mint
Prepare the prawns:
1. Marinate the cleaned prawns with the ingredients mentioned under ‘For the marinade’ and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. Heat a tawa or non stick pan & dry roast the chillies, peppercorns, fenugreek, coriander & cumin seeds. Take care to see that the chillies don’t burn otherwise they will let out a bitter taste. Using a little water grind all these ingredients along with the garlic, tamarind coriander and mint leaves to a fine paste. Retain the masala water from the mixie.
3. Heat the ghee in a wide thick bottomed pan and fry the onions till golden. Next, add the ground masala and fry it on a medium heat till the oil separates (the masala should be fried really well)
4. Add the marinated prawns and cook until done. Sprinkle a little water to reduce the thickness of the gravy as we need a little extra gravy while layering the rice. Let the gravy not be too watery/thin and not too thick either.
5. Remove from heat when done.
Prepare the rice:
1. Drain the washed and soaked rice over a fine slotted colander.
2. In a large pan (big enough to accommodate the rice when it doubles in volume) heat the ghee and fry the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves on a medium heat.
3. Add the chopped onions and fry them till they turn translucent. Add the ginger and garlic paste and stir for a few seconds.
4. Add the drained rice and fry it until it begins to feel heavy – if you continue to fry beyond this point the grains will begin to break. While the rice is frying bring the water or stock to a boil – you can use plain water flavoured by stock cubes (bouillon cubes) or chicken stock or a combination of stock and water to make the rice more flavourful.
5. Add the chopped coriander stalks, salt (if required) and lime juice. Adjust taste as required. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and then reduce the heat to a sim, cover the pan tightly (to prevent steam from escaping you can cover the mouth of the pan with aluminium foil and then place a well fitting lid over it). Let the rice cook on this heat for exactly 5 mins. Don’t forget to keep the timer!
6. After 5 mins are up turn off the heat and let the rice cook for another 15 mins (remember to turn off the heat!) – don’t open the pan till 15 mins are up.
7. After 15 mins, open the pan gently and quickly fluff up the rice using a fork and cover the pan again for half a minute. Your rice is ready
Assemble the biryani
1. Take a large pan and layer it first with 1/3rd the amount of rice. The next layer should be 1/3rd of the prawns. Continue the layering till all the rice and prawns are finished. Make sure that you divide not just the prawns but also its gravy equally for all the layers. Spread out the gravy evenly over the rice so that when you serve the biryani it is evenly coated (no dry or soggy rice in some areas)
2. After each layer is completed you can sprinkle the fried onions, raisins and cashew nuts and the chopped coriander and mint. Make sure that you reserve a little of each to be garnished on the top most layer
3. To serve, dig right in and pull out the biryani with all the layers. Serve hot with raitha of your choice