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Malabar Fish Biryani – Delicious and Simple

malabar fish biryani

Malabar Fish Biryani


Malabar Fish Biryani – Delicious and Simple

Malabar Fish Biryani???? Yes Please!

Biryani – The all time comfort food! Be it a fancy wedding, a family reunion or just a lazy weekend lunch – Biryani is always there to make you happy! So for the fish lovers out there, what could be better than a delicious Malabar Fish Biryani?!

This is a very simple Biryani that tastes delicious! The fish is pan fried, prior to layering it with rice. Now, there are two ways to go about this. You can either, half fry thicker slices of fish and steam it between layers of rice – this is great if you love the scent of fish throughout the Biryani. The other method, which I prefer – is to fry thinner slices of fish and then just lay it on top  of the rice layer which lays on top of the masala layer and then steam it together (dum). This way the rice is scented more subtly by the fish.The choice is yours.

In this Malabar recipe I use Kaima Rice. Basmati may be used too. Scroll down for VIDEO.

Malabar fish biryani

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Recipe Name: Malabar Fish Biryani – Delicious and Simple
Recipe Type: Rice
Author: Shana c/o Recipes ‘R’ Simple
Prep time: 4
Cook time: 40 min 
Total time: 
Yield: (4 servings)

Malabar Fish Biryani – Delicious and Simple

malabar fish biryani recipe



  •  600 gms fish like King Fish, thicker slices if you want to layer between the rice and thinner slices if you want to layer over the rice.

To marinate the fish:

  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder (I use 1 tsp hot chili and 1 tsp mild chili powders)
  • ½ tsp green fennel powder (saunf/ perumjeerakam)

For the Rice:

kaima rice

Kaima Rice vs Basmati Rice

  • 2 ½ cups basmati rice
  • 2 medium onions, sliced for the rice
  • 3 Tbsp ghee
  • 4 cloves, 4 cardamom pods, 4 tiny sticks cinnamon – all slightly bruised/ crushed
  • 4  cups boiled water

For the masala

  • ¹/3 -½ cup ghee or oil (I prefer ghee)
  • 2 large onions, chopped for masala
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced for fried garnish
  • 4 Tbsp ginger garlic paste (equal quantities of ginger and garlic, ground to a smooth paste with a spoon of water)
  • 1 Tbsp green chili paste
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Garam Masala or Biryani Masala powder
  • 4 Tbsp thick yoghurt
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh coriander, chopped
  • ¾ cup (loosely packed) fresh mint, chopped
  • 4 tsp lime juice
  • salt to taste
malabar fish biryani ingredients

Ingredients for Malabar Fish Biryani


  • Marination: Marinate the fish with the ingredients for marinating. Rub well into the fish and place the the refrigerator, covered for 30 minutes.
  • marinated fish
  • Rice, Step1: Rinse the Kaima/ Jeerakasala or Basmati rice thoroughly, till the water runs clear. Keep drained.
  • Heat ghee for the rice in a pot. Add the sliced onions and sauté till softened and JUST turning golden without going brown.
  • malabar fish biryani - saute onion
  • Add the drained rice and fry well in the ghee for 5 minutes or so till the grains are coated with ghee and toasted well. Any moisture in the rice, should evaporate as well.
  • malabar fish biryani - fry rice
  • Add the crushed spices and fry again till you can really smell the aroma of the spices.
  • malabar fish biryani - fry spices
  • malabar fish biryani - till aromatic
  • Now cover the pot and switch off the heat. Allow these fried grains to rest like this while the fish is marinating or even longer. This helps the rice to be far more aromatic and makes the rice more delicious.
  • Prep: Now you can prepare the ginger-garlic paste and chop the onions, finely slice the onions for garnish, chop the fresh herbs etc.
  • Pan Fry: Take the fish out of the fridge and place near the warmth of the stove.
  • Add the ghee for the masala in a shallow, non stick frying pan.
  • Add the thinly sliced onions and fry till golden and crisp. Quickly remove once golden, or they will turn black and bitter.
  • malabar biryani - fry onions malabar fish biryani - fry onions 2 malabar fish biryani - drain from oil
  • Scatter on kitchen paper to drain.
  • malabar fish biryani - scatter on paper
  • Place the marinated fish in the same ghee to fry.
  • malabar fish biryani - fry fish
  • (If you are using thicker slices for layering between the rice, fry on both sides very lightly and remove.)
  • If you are using thinner slices to steam on top of the rice, as I have done – fry till golden and cooked on both sides. Remove the fish from the ghee.
  • malabar fish biryani - both sides fried fish for biryani
  • Rice, Step 2: Stir the fried grains that have been resting in the pot once. Add the boiled (hot) water and salt.
  • malabar fish biryani - add water
  • Bring to boil on high.
  • malabar fish biryani - bring to boil
  • Lower heat, cover tightly with a lid and cook till done.
  • malabar fish biryani - cover rice
  • As soon as the water has been completely absorbed, fluff up the rice with a fork and stir in one more spoon of ghee.
  • Prepare Masala: Heat the ghee for the masala in a heavy based, wide pot. (I strain the ghee that was used for frying the onions and fish ).
  • Add the chopped onion and sauté briefly, till softened.
  • malabar fish biryani - add onions for masala
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté for 1 minute, stirring till the raw smell of the garlic dissipates.
  • malabar fish biryani - ginger garlic paste
  • Also add the green chili paste and sauté again briefly.
  • malabar fish biryani - green chilli paste
  • Now add the biryani masala powder or garam masala and stir till aromatic and mixed through the sautéed ingredients.
  • malabar fish biryani - garam masala added malabar fish biryani - stir till aromatic
  • Add the chopped tomatoes now. Cook well, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes till the tomatoes are reduced to a pulpy paste.
  • malabar fish biryani - add tomato malabar fish biryani - till pulpy
  • Add the chopped mint and coriander and a little salt to taste. Cook just till the leaves wilt.
  • malabar fish biryani - add leaves
  • At this point, add the yoghurt and stir briskly till the yogurt disappears into the mixture. Stir quickly so that the yoghurt does not curdle.
  • malabar fish biryani - add yoghurt malabar fish biryani - stir
  • Cook briefly, till oil separates – on low heat.
  • malabar fish biryani - oil separates
  • (If using thicker, half fried fish steaks, add to the prepared masala now and coat gently).
  • If using thinner golden fried fish, do as follows:
  • Fluff up the rice once more and scatter a scant layer of rice over the prepared masala.
  • Sprinkle a little bit of the lime juice, some fried onions and fresh coriander if desired over this layer.
  • malabar fish biryani - thin layer of rice
  • Spread the remaining rice over this and pat gently.
  • Sprinkle the remaining  lime juice over the rice.
  • Add some more fried onions.
  • Press the fried fish over the rice. Add some chopped coriander if desired.
  • malabar fish biryani - remaining rice
  • malabar fish biryani - cover with fish
  • Cover the pot with tight lid and place the pot on an old tawa/ pan and return to stove.
  • malabar fish biryani - over old tawa
  • Cook on this indirect heat for 20 minutes on medium heat.
  • You can either seal the lid with prepared dough, to prevent steam from escaping, or you can place a shallow plate/ lid over the pot and place a heavy weight on top. Pour boiled water into this plate to give the rice some heat from above.
  • malabar fish biryani - cover and dum
  • After 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Open the pot, remove the fish gently.
  • malabar fish biryani - remove fish
  • Pour the rose water over the rice and stir the rice from the bottom of the rice to mix the masala as desired. Do not over mix – but make sure the masala is not lumped at the bottom.
  • malabar fish biryani - mix
  • Serve the rice in 4 plates,  divide the fish amongst the plates and garnish with the fried onions!
  • Serve with with onion salad or raita, pickle and poppadom. Garnish with a few slices of hard boiled egg, if desired. It goes well with this Biryani.

recipe for malabar fish biryani

Malabar Fish Biryani – Delicious and Simple

  • Onion Salad (Challaas) recipe can be found in this post for Mutton Biryani.
  • Fried Cashew nuts and Raisins(kismis) may be used as garnish. This is optional.

Key Ingredients: Rice, Fish, Ghee, Onions, Ginger, Garlic, Green Chili, Tomato, Yoghurt, Herbs, Spices,  Lime, Rosewater

Let us know if you tried it – Malabar Fish Biryani – Delicious and Simple . Comments from you provide motivation to keep up the driving force behind this blog, bringing you more delicious and perfected recipes regularly. Please do leave a comment. We love to hear from you.

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  1. Avatar Natalie 2 years ago

    I love this recipe! I made it the same day I saw it! It’s so much simpler than I thought it might be. And the flavor and aroma is delicious! Thank you so much!

  2. Avatar cindy 2 years ago

    Yes. Shana, I can see the quality of your work by just reading them!—

    Yes. Do go e-recipe. I would definately buy it as a token of my appreciation.

    — I am going to cook it next week. AND for sure, I know it is going to be delicious!


  3. Avatar mariyam 1 year ago

    Today i tried this , it was very good. Everyone at home loved it. It is very easy
    and delicious . Thank you.

  4. Pingback: 30 Authentic Biryani Recipes - PepperLace

  5. Avatar supti chand 1 year ago


  6. Avatar Anonymous 12 months ago

    Hi what a fantastic recipe. Well presented.

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