Fish & Shrimp Biriyani

Biriyani is usually a long process especially when you’re cooking meat or chicken. If you’ve attempted this before, you know this is not something to take on during the week. Because my last minute guest loves biriyani, I decided to go a jaldi five (quick version) using fish and shrimp since both of those cook very fast. You can mix the two, make only fish or only shrimp. Totally up to you!

3 cups Basmati rice soaked for minimum 1/2 hour, washed and drained
1 tbsp Ghee(clarified butter)
1 stick of cinnamon, 2 bay leaves, 4 cardamoms and some cloves

1 lb Basa fillets cut in cubes
8 oz Tiger or White Shrimp
1 tbsp each cumin, turmeric, red chilly and garam masala powders
1 tbsp each ginger and garlic paste
2 medium red onions sliced
2 medium tomatoes chopped
2 small chillies sliced
Pinch of saffron strands soaking in 1/2 cup of milk(optional)
3/4 cup each fresh mint and coriander
1/2 tsp yellow powder food coloring

In a pot heat the ghee(clarified butter) and add the whole spices. Add about 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste and the basmati rice. Cook till half done for about 10 – 15 mins, Strain all of the leftover water if any.

Heat some oil in a pan and fry the onions till golden brown. Remove from heat and reserve half for the garnish. To the same pan add the fish and then the shrimp. Just saute the fish till it’s sealed all over and remove from heat. Save any juices that come out of the fish and shrimp. Add half the onions back in the pan and follow with the ginger and garlic paste, tomatoes and chilies. Add the powdered spices, salt, stir and cover for a few mins. Be sure to watch the pan and add a little water if necessary. Add the fish back in, cover and cook for 7-10 mins.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In an over proof deep dish we are ready to layer the biriyani. I will typically not make more than 4 layers – 2 gravy and 2 meat. The more layers you make the heavier the mass and the grains don't get a chance to fluff out. Also don’t over crowd your pot. The rice is only half cooked and still needs room to grow. Start with a layer of fish and shrimp with gravy, over that add a layer of rice and all of the saffron strands soaked in milk. Then add another layer of fish and shrimp with gravy and top with the final layer of rice. Add powdered yellow food coloring and all of the reserved fried onions. Tightly seal the pot with some foil and place a heavy lid over it. Cook this in the oven for 30 – 40 mins. 

When done open the foil, allow the steam to fully escape before fluffing the rice with a fork. Mix in mint and coriander leaves before serving.

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