Flaky fish meat cooked with a biryani spice blend to make a delicious curry. Then, it is layered with the best quality Sella rice and infused with aromatic saffron. This fish biryani recipe is guaranteed to tingle your taste buds and become a favorite dinner.
I love biryani! Biryani and I have an unbreakable friendship. If you are a mutual friend with Biryani, I officially have a half-dozen biryani recipes to share with you. Together, we are biryani fanatics ;).
I've curated an amazing collection of biryani recipes catering to diverse dietary preferences: vegetarian, pescatarian, and carnivore palate. I hope you get to try them.
Which fish should you use for fish biryani?
I am using 1-pound boneless tilapia fillets for this recipe. You can use any other firm-fleshed fish like cod, trout, halibut, mahi-mahi, pomfret, or snapper. Salmon is also a great substitute. I would avoid using catfish and Dover sole.
Fish Biryani Ingredients
- Fish: Use any firm-fleshed fish for fish biryani.
- Sella Basmati Rice: Sella Basmati rice is a variety of Basmati rice that is parboiled and tends to be more fluffy and separate when cooked. If unavailable, you can use regular Basmati rice. Adjust cooking time accordingly.
- Onions: I am using thinly sliced yellow onions to create the base and garnish for biryani. Non-coated fried onion can be a great substitute and it cuts down the prep time. For the best taste, fry your onions at home, Sis. 😉
- Tomatoes: No canned tomatoes in biryani, Sis. If you don't have them in your fridge, make a trip to your local grocery store or grow your own lol. Only use fresh tomatoes or no biryani.
- Plain Yogurt: Full-fat plain yogurt. No Greek or other substitute. I have never cooked biryani with lactose-free yogurt. You do whatever fits your dietary needs.
- Green Chilies: I am using serrano peppers for this recipe. Jalapenos or any other milder chili would work great. Adding none works as well.
- Cilantro and Mint Leaves: Cilantro also known as coriander leaves and mint are key herbs for traditional biryani. Use both, or one but don't make it none.
- Ginger-Garlic Paste: Use grated equal parts of fresh ginger and garlic cloves if you do not have the paste. Granulated ginger and garlic do not belong in this recipe.
- Saffron Strands: Saffron adds color and aroma. If unavailable, use a pinch of powder in warm water and a splash of rose water.
- Ghee or Oil: I am using olive oil to fry the onion and cook the curry. Ghee is a good substitute.
What to serve with Biryani?
Storing and Reheating the Leftovers
Leftover biryani can be conveniently stored in a microwave-safe glass container with a lid. To reheat, simply microwave for a minute or two, adding a spritz of water to retain moisture in the rice. It stays delicious when refrigerated and will keep well for up to a week.
Tips for a Great Biryani
- Use long grain-aged or sella basmati rice for the best-tasting fluffy biryani.
- Drizzle ghee on the top layer before diffusing or baking the biryani. This gives great richness, and aromatic flavors to the biryani.
- Use a diffuser to cook biryani on a stovetop. It prevents overcooking or burning of biryani at the bottom.
- Biryani is best cooked while the steam is locked in the pan. Use a heavy lid or cover the pan with aluminum foil then cover with the lid.
More Seafood Recipes
- Oven Roasted Mackerel
- Shrimp Biryani
- Shrimp Curry
- Baked Fish Masala
- Pomfret Fish Curry
- Salmon Coconut Lime Curry
- Fish Tagine
Fish Biryani Recipe | Boneless Fish Biryani
- 1 pound boneless fish fillet cut into equal pieces , like tilapia, cod, or any firm-fleshed fish (see notes in the blog)
- 2 cups Sella basmati rice , soaked for 30 minutes
- 1 large yellow onion , thinly sliced
- 2 medium chopped tomatoes , 1 addtional sliced tomato for garnish
- ½ cup full-fat plain yogurt
- 2 green chilies , slit lengthwise
- ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
- ¼ cup chopped mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
- 4-5 Saffron strands , soaked in 3 tablespoons warm water
- ¼ cup oil for cooking , take more if needed
- 1 sliced lemon for garnish
- 6 cups water
Fish Biryani Masala Blend
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 1 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 black cardamom pod
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 4 cloves
- 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
- 1 ½ teaspoons kashmiri red chili powder , adjust to your spice preference
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt, or to taste , 1 teaspoons extra for parboiling rice
Fish Biryani Masala
- Dry roast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, green cardamom pods, black cardamom pod, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, in a pan until fragrant. Allow it to cool.
- Grind the cooled roasted spices into a fine powder using a spice grinder. Mix in Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt. Adjust seasoning to taste. This spice blend is now ready to be used for marinating the fish for biryani.
Marinate the fish
- Mix the fish pieces with yogurt, Biryani spice blend, half of the chopped mint and cilantro leaves. Let it marinate for 30 minutes.
Parboil the rice
- In a large pot, bring 6 cups water to a boil along with some salt. Add the soaked rice and cook until it's 70% done. It takes about 6-8 minutes on medium-high heat. Drain the water and set the rice aside.
Fry the onions
- In a separate pan, heat oil and fry the sliced onions until golden brown. Remove half for later use and leave the rest in the pan.
Cook the fish curry
- In the same pan with the fried onions, add ginger garlic paste. Sautee for about a minute on medium heat. Add chopped tomatoes and green chilies. Cook until tomatoes soften.
- Add marinated fish and let it cook for a few minutes on each side until it's cooked. Transfer the fish gently to a plate from the curry and set it aside. If the curry is too runny, cook on medium heat until slightly thicker consistency.
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, start layering. Begin with a thin layer of rice, then add some cooked curry, half fish pieces, fried onions, remaining chopped coriander and mint leaves, and a few saffron-infused water drops. Repeat the layer.
- Top the layer with slices of tomatoes and lemon. Drizzle one to two tablespoons of ghee if your heart desires. Seal the pot with a tight lid or aluminum foil.
Cover and cook
- Heat a large Cast Iron Skillet or Tava on medium heat. Place the pot on Tava or Skillet to diffuse the heat. Turn the heat down to low. Steam(Dum) on low heat for 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- To Bake in the oven (Dum), layer curry, fish, and rice in an oven-safe pot like a Dutch oven or disposable aluminum tray. Cover the pot and Bake the Biryani at 365 F for 25 minutes.
- To serve, gently slide the spatula on one side of the pot and gently bring the rice and fish to the top. Remove the biryani gently on a platter. Serve hot with Raita (yogurt sauce) or salad.
- Soaking rice in water for 30 minutes before cooking can help make it fluffier and result in longer grains. Adding whole spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and bay leaf while parboiling the rice enhances the aroma of Biryani.
- To reduce prep time, consider preparing the Biryani masala a day or two in advance. Similarly, preparing fried onions (birista) ahead of time can help streamline the cooking process.
- If opting for boxed Biryani masala, adjust the salt and chili powder according to your taste preferences.
Nutrition information is sourced from a third-party application and should be considered as approximate figures for reference purposes only.