Tuesday 10 October 2017

Diwali Special **Prawn Biryani Recipe** for Beginners

Biryani is a classic South Asian rice dish often cooked on special occasions. Although I love cooking variety of Indian cuisines, I always refrained from cooking biryani because of its lengthy and elaborate cooking procedure. It’s a known fact that cooking the finest biryani needs a certain finesse to bring out the perfect flavour and taste which I believe only seasoned cooks can accomplish.

Not that I’ve lived away from home before, but finding the perfect biryani in Vancouver that pleased my taste buds seemed difficult. Therefore, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention or rather trial and error in my case , I finally decided to take up the challenging task in my own hands. Ever since I moved to Vancouver I have not only started cooking more often than I’ve ever cooked in my life but I also cooked that one dish which I thought wasn’t my cup of tea. My sister in Mumbai makes a mean biryani so she was my go-to person for the recipe. However, to make my job simple for the first time at cooking biryani, she modified the recipe to make it as simple and easy for me. I can’t thank her enough for sharing this simple yet delicious recipe with me that I can easily cook whenever I crave a Biryani. In the past 3 months, I have already cooked it thrice and each time it turned out better than before. Since it has also been approved by a couple of friends here it might make its way to my Diwali party menu this year.

Today I’m going to share a simple, quick and tasty Shrimp/Prawn Biryani Recipe. It is inspired by the Hyderabadi style of cooking biryani in India. This recipe is highly recommended to beginners like me who have occasionally or never cooked biryani and also for all those veteran cooks out there who might want to try something different and simple. 
With the Diwali festival around the corner I hope this recipe can find its place in your menu this festive season. 
Here’s the step by step process of making this delicious rice dish. 

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 to 45 mins
Serves: 4
For Marinating Prawns:
Prawns/Shrimps – 15 to 20 medium size
Chili powder – 2 tbsp.
Turmeric powder – 1 tbsp.
*Biryani masala – 2 tbsp.
Coriander powder – 2 tbsp. 
Ginger Garlic paste – 1 tbsp.
Salt – 1 tbsp.
1 Large Onion thinly sliced and fried
½ Cup chopped fresh mint leaves
¾ Cup Plain Curd/Yogurt
Green Chilies – 1 slit (Depending on how hot/spicy you like)
Optional: Lemon juice – ½ tbsp., Saffron - a pinch, Warm Milk – 4 tbsp. 

*Any Biryani masala works. I used Shan’s chicken biryani masala, since it was handy. My sister makes her biryani masala from scratch at home. Recipe to be shared some other time.

For Boiling Rice:
Basmati Rice – 2 cups
Oil/Ghee – 1 tbsp.
Bay leaves – 2
Cinnamon sticks – 3
Cloves – 5
Green Cardamom – 3
Shahi Jeera – ½ tbsp.
Salt – 1 tbsp.
Mint leaves – ¼ cup
Optional: Fennel seeds – ½ tbsp. Star anise – 2, Black Cardamom – 2, Mace or Javitri – 2, Black Pepper – 5

Step 1: Start with soaking basmati rice for 20 to 30 mins. Do this first, so while you’re done with the other preparations the rice is ready to be cooked. 

Step 2:
Chop the onions into thin slices and deep fry until dark brown and crisp.

Once done, set aside and let cool.

Step 3: Marinate the Shrimp/Prawns. Add all the spices, crushed fried onions, mint leaves and yogurt to the prawns and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes.  

Final product for marination. 

Step 4: Boil water in a vessel and add whole spices, mint leaves, oil and salt. The spices and mint leaves give a nice flavour to the rice. Don’t add the rice yet. Let the water boil with the spices and mint leaves.

I personally don’t like bits or whole spices in my food unless they are clearly visible and easy to take out. I hate the idea of accidently biting a whole clove or cardamom while eating my biryani. So, I tied all the whole spices except for the bay leaves into a clean handkerchief (muslin cloth). By doing this the rice still gets the flavour and fragrance of the spices and you don’t have to worry about biting into a whole spice while enjoying your biryani.

Step 5: While the water is boiling on the side, take a thick bottom pan to cook biryani and heat 1tbsp. ghee in it. Add the marinated prawns to the pan and spread evenly. Add sliced green chillies on top depending on how spicy you like it. Keep the heat low until rice is added.

Step 6: In the boiling water add the soaked basmati rice and cook the rice for 5 minutes on high heat. Don’t let the rice boil completely. Leave it 3/4th cooked and strain out the water immediately.

Step 7: Spread the half-cooked basmati rice over the marinated prawns that’s been cooking on low heat for 5 minutes. Add some fried onions and mint leaves on the top. Optional - Add Saffron milk for colour and fragrance. (Soak Saffron milk in warm milk for a few minutes before adding to the rice)

Step 8: Cover the pan with a tight lid and cook on high heat for 5 minutes. Turn the heat low and cook for another 15 to 17 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it rest for another 20 minutes before opening the lid.

Toss the rice gently to mix with the prawns and gravy before serving.

Serve hot with onion raita and enjoy.

Let us know in the comments if you try this recipe and like it. 

 For So-Saree Canada


  1. Love shrimp biryani - thanks for sharing this recipe! I usually only do chicken or mutton - was afraid I'd overcook the seafood but now I will try :)



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