This prawn biryani is my take on creating the same flavors of an authentic biryani using seafood instead of meat! The result was exquisite!
Biryani is one indispensable part of Indian cuisine and as far as I know, it is loved by all without any exception! This dish has such power that it can boost your mood instantaneously. You must be thinking about the amount of effort required to prepare biryani at home; but trust me, if you could keep few things ready beforehand it will be a child’s play to assemble it just half an hour before serving.
In India there are uncountable varieties of biryani available. To be specific, every state has its own version which is unique to its people and their taste buds. But the basic principle is always same – it has to be extremely flavorful and there is no two ways about it! That delightfully appetizing aroma will bring smile to your face without fail!
My love for biryani started and flourished in the city of Hyderabad which is called the city of Nizams who were particularly famous for their cuisine. The specialty of their version is the cooking process which is called ‘Dum’. ‘Dum’ is an effective arrangement of finishing the biryani to bring out the maximum flavor of all spices together. My recipe also uses this technique and trust me; the final product will be just beyond your expectation!
I used prawns this time but you can use chicken or mutton as well; only you just have to process the meats little differently than prawns as you might know that prawns take no time to cook! I will share my versions of chicken and mutton biryani shortly and in the meantime you can check out my ‘Egg Biryani’!
Indulge in this royal Indian delicacy!
- Medium prawns – 350 gms, shelled and de-veined
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
- Basmati rice – 2 cups
- Bay leaf – 2
- Whole black peppercorn – 1 tsp
- Green cardamom – 10 to 12
- Black cardamom – 2
- Cinnamon/cassia stick – 2 inch
- Cloves – 8 to 10
- Mace – 4 to 5 strands
- Saffron – 8 to 10 strands
- Kewra/Screw pine essence – 1 tbsp
- Milk – 4 tbsp
- Ghee (Clarified butter) – 8 to 10 tbsp
- Onion – 500 gms
- Tomato – 2, medium, chopped into small pieces
- Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
- Mint leave – 25 to 20
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- Biryani masala (Biryani spice mix) – 3 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Shell, de-vein and wash the prawns thoroughly. Add turmeric powder and ¼ tablespoon salt to the prawns and mix well.
- Heat vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet and lightly sauté the prawns in it till opaque. Do not overcook. Take them out and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 bay leaf and the whole pepper corns in it.
- Add the washed Basmati rice and cook it until ¾th done. Drain and let it cool.
- Slice all the onions thinly and deep fry them in batches in vegetable oil till golden brown and crisp. Set aside.
- Warm the milk lightly in a small bowl and soak the saffron strands in it. The saffron strands will start diffusing its bright orange color in the warm milk.
- Now take a heavy bottom pan for assembling the biryani. I use my cast iron Dutch oven which is just perfect for Biryanis.
- Heat half of the ghee and add remaining bay leaf, green & black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and mace. Stir them in the ghee for a minute to let the whole spices infuse their flavor in the ghee.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste and handful of brown onions. Sauté them till the tomatoes are all broken and mushy.
- Now spread half of the rice over the tomatoes and cover the base. Sprinkle salt and half of the remaining brown onion. Scatter half of the mint leaves over it. Sprinkle half of the saffron-milk mixture and half of biryani masala (spice mix) all over the rice. Place half of the fried prawns over the rice.
- Now spread the final layer of rice with the remaining portion by covering the bottom layer fully. Sprinkle the remaining brown onions, mint leaves, biryani masala and saffron-milk mixture.
- Spread remaining ghee all over the top layer of rice and sprinkle salt and kewra/screw pince essence. Complete the assembling but topping the rice with remaining fried prawns.
- Cover the pan with a heavy tight lid so that the steam cannot escape. If you don’t have a tight lid, you can also use an aluminum foil to cover the pot and place a lid over it. This is what is essentially called cooking in ‘Dum’!
- Simmer it on your lowest heat setting for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not increase the heat whatsoever as it may burn the rice which is the bottom of the pot.
- After 15 minutes or so, turn off the heat and let the biryani sit for 15 minutes.
- Serve hot with some chilled raita.