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Malabar Prawn Biryani

- Submitted by Dahlia on 13th Jul 2016

(Shrimp Biryani, Thalassery Chemmen Biryani, Eral Biryani, Jhinga Birayani)

Malabar Prawn Biryani

Prawns Biryani or Shrimp Biryani is one of the 'all time favorites' among seafood lovers. There is a small difference between prawns and shrimp. I read in the internet that for shrimp the first two pairs of legs are bigger whereas for prawns all the legs are of uniform size. According to Wikipedia 'Prawns are sometimes said to be large shrimp or alternatively freshwater shrimp'. In India and UK, prawns are more common while in the US shrimp is more common. You can use either prawns or shrimp interchangeably in recipes.

Prawns Biryani is one item that is always found in the menu of leading restaurants. I have already shared the recipe of One-Pot Shrimp Biryani in which rice, spices and shrimp are all cooked together. Now I am giving the recipe of Shrimp or Prawns Biryani made using the Dum style. In this, rice, masala and prawns are cooked separately and then layered. This type of biryani is popular in North India, Hyderabad, Pakistan, Mumbai and Kerala. There are mild variations depending on the spices used. I have used the Malabar style Prawns Biryani which is called the Kerala Chemmeen Biryani. In Kerala black pepper powder, raisins and cashews are used which gives a unique flavor and taste. The final product is awesome. So let's get to the recipe.

Recipe for Malabar Prawn Biryani

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Serves: 4 - 5

Ingredients

For Marinating

  • Prawns (or Shrimp) – ½ kg
  • Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala – ¼ tsp
  • Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  • Lemon Juice – 1 tsp
  • Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp

For Cooking Rice

  • Basmati Rice – 2 cups
  • Cardamom – 3
  • Cinnamon – 2” piece
  • Bay Leaf – 2
  • Cloves – 5
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Salt-totaste
  • Fennel seeds (or cumin seeds) – 1 tsp

For Masala

  • Oil – 3-4 tbsp
  • Ghee – 2 tbsp
  • Onion – 2(about 1 cup sliced)
  • Ginger Garlic Paste – 2 tbsp
  • Tomato – 2(about 1 cup chopped)
  • Green Chilies – 4 (finely chopped)
  • Mint Leaves – 1/4 cup
  • Coriander Leaves – 1/4 cup
  • Curd – ¼ cup
  • Lemon Juice – 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala (or Biryani Masala)– 1 tsp
  • Red Chili Powder – ½ tsp
  • Black Pepper Powder – ¼ tsp
  • Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp

For Layering

  • Cashews – 2-3 tbsp
  • Raisins – 2-3 tbsp
  • Mint Leaves – ¼ cup
  • Coriander Leaves – ¼ cup
  • Onion – 2(about 1.5 cups sliced) 
  • Milk – 3 tbsp
  • Saffron – few strands
  • Garam Masala – ¼ tsp
  • Ghee – 2 tbsp
  • Oil – 2-3 tbsp

Method

  1. Marinate the prawns with salt, red chili powder, ginger garlic paste, garam masala and lemon juice for about 10 minutes. Wash and soak the rice for about 30 minutes. I usually soak the rice and get the other things done. Similarly, soak the saffron strands in some warm milk.
  2. Heat a big heavy bottomed pot or a pressure cooker in which you plan to make the biryani. Add 2 tbsp of oil; first fry the cashews and raisins until golden brown. Remove  them using a slotted spoon and keep it aside.
  3. In the same oil, add the marinated shrimp (prawns) and fry for about 5 minutes. Remove it and keep it aside.
  4. Add another 2 tbsp. of oil and add the sliced onions. Add little salt and cook it for 30 minutes on medium flame till it gets browned. Remove the fried onions and keep it aside. We need it later for layering. You can fry the onions in a separate pan if you want to save time.
  5. After removing the onions, add little ghee to the same pan. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute.
  6.  Add chopped tomatoes and green chilies.  Also add the chopped mint and coriander leaves. Saute till it gets mushed up.
  7.  Add the dry spices – red chili powder, garam masala, turmeric powder and black pepper powder. Add the curd and lemon juice. Also, add 1/3rd of the fried onions. Mix everything together and cook for 2-3 minutes till you get a nice gravy.
  8. At this stage, mix in the fried prawns with this.
  9. Simultaneously in another big pot, bring plenty of water to boil. Add the oil, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, fennel seeds and some salt. Add the soaked rice. Cook until the rice is 3/4th cooked i.e. it should have a bite to it. Drain the rice and keep it ready for layering.
  10. In the pot with the masala gravy and the prawns, spread the masala evenly around the pan. Add the cooked rice as the second layer. You can add all the rice in a single batch if you are making a small quantity. For large quantities, 2-3 layers of the masala and rice can be made.
  11. After you add the rice layer, add finely chopped mint leaves, coriander leaves, fried onions, roasted cashews and raisins as the third layer. Add the saffron soaked milk on top of the rice. Also sprinkle some garam masala and add the ghee on top.
  12. Cover with a tight fitting lid and leave it on the lowest heat setting for about 20 minutes.
  13. Open the lid, fluff up the rice gently without breaking it. Enjoy.

Malabar Prawn Biryani

Detailed Steps for Malabar Prawn Biryani

Wash and devein the prawns. You can use small, medium or large variety of prawns depending on availability. Dry it using a kitchen towel or paper napkin to remove all excess moisture. This is important because we are going to shallow fry the prawns. Marinate it with salt, red chili powder, ginger garlic paste, garam masala and lemon juice for about 10 minutes. Wash and soak the basmati rice for about 30 minutes. I usually soak the rice and get the other things done.  I have used basmati rice today but jeeraga samba rice could also be used. Also soak some saffron in milk.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

Heat a big heavy bottomed pot or a pressure cooker. Add 2 tbsp of oil; fry the cashews until golden brown. Remove it with a slotted spoon. Add the raisins and fry it. It will bloom up. Remove this also and keep it aside.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

In the same oil, add the marinated shrimp (prawns) and fry for 5 minutes till it becomes golden brown. Remove it and keep it aside.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

Add another 2 tbsp. of oil to the same pot and add the sliced onions. Sometimes I fry the onions in a different pan using another burner to save time. Add little salt and cook it for 30 minutes on medium flame till it gets browned. Remove the fried onions and keep it aside. We need it later for layering.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

After removing the onions, add 2 tbsp of ghee to the same pan. Add the ginger garlic paste. Fry for a minute. Add chopped green chilies, tomatoes and saute.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

Add the chopped mint and coriander leaves. Fry everything together for couple of minutes.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

Add the dry spices - red chili powder, garam masala, turmeric powder and black pepper powder. Fry for about 30 seconds to waken up the spices. Add the curd and lemon juice. Also add 1/3rd of the fried onions. Mix everything together and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

Once the masala is ready, mix in the fried prawns with this. Spread the masala evenly in the pan and keep it as the first layer.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

Simultaneously in another big pot (using the second burner), bring about 8-10 cups of water to a boil. Add the oil, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, fennel seeds and some salt. Add the soaked rice. Cook until the rice is 3/4th cooked i.e. it should have a bite to it. Drain the rice and keep it ready for layering. Once the masala is ready, spread the drained rice evenly as the second layer. add the rice. Since my pan is wide, I added everything in one batch. If it is a narrow deep vessel, remove part of the masala and make 2-3 layers of the masala and rice.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

After you add the rice layer, add the next layer of finely chopped mint leaves, coriander leaves, fried onions, roasted cashews and raisins. At the last, add the saffron soaked milk and some ghee on top. Also sprinkle some garam masala powder.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

Cover with a tight fitting lid and leave it on the lowest heat setting for about 20 minutes. If the pot is oven safe, bake it in the oven in 180 degrees (350 degree F) for 20 minutes. The flavors of the shrimp will get infused in the rice.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

Open the lid, fluff up the rice gently without breaking it using a wooden spoon or fork. Serve.

Malabar Prawns Biryani Steps

Serving Suggestion

  • This biryani just needs some raita in the side. 
  • You could also serve with the usual biryani sides like boiled egg, pickle, papad, chicken fry etc.

Malabar Prawn Biryani

More Biryani Recipes

Shrimp Biryani One Pot Shrimp (prawns) Biryani Quail Biryani Kaadai / Quail Biryani Cooked Meat Biryani Cooked Meat Biryani Egg Biryani Egg Biryani
See more...


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