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Monday, February 17, 2014

Malabar Prawn Biryani


UPDATED: With updated photo and content

Though I used to live in Kolkata, I grew up among Keralian neighbors. Even though the states of Kerala and West Bengal are on the opposite ends of India, they share a common cooking style, thanks to the common local coastal ingredients. They use prawn commonly in their food and since it was my favorite, I made it a point to never miss out on any parties at their home.

On the day after the party I’d drop by to snack on the left overs and figured out that the food tastes better the next day. Since the Biryani involves a lot of spices it tastes better on the next day after the spices settle down.


  1. For Marinade
    1. 1lb. medium size prawns de-shelled and deveined
    2. 1 tsp. turmeric powder
    3. 1 tsp. ginger garlic pate
    4. Salt to taste
  2. For Prawn Masala
    1. 1 tsp. shah jeera (caraway seeds)
    2. 5,6 cloves
    3. 1" cinnamon stick
    4. 1 tsp. black pepper corn
    5. 2,3 green cardamom pods
    6. 2 bay leaves
    7. 1 medium onion thinly sliced
    8. 1 tsp. ginger garlic paste
    9. 2 green chilies finely chopped ( you can increase or decrease depending on your heat tollerance level )
    10. 2 tbsp. of coconut paste ( I used frozen grated coconut, but fresh is always the best )
    11. 2 tbsp of plain yogurt ( curd )
    12. 2 tbsp. of biriyani masala of any brand you like (I used Banne Nawab's biriyani masala )
    13. 1 tsp. sugar
    14. Salt to taste
  3. For Rice
    1. 2 cups of basmati rice washed and soaked in water for 30 mins.
    2. 6 cups of water
    3. 1 tsp. salt
  4. For layering
    1. 2 tsp. of oil or ghee
    2. 1/2 tsp. biryani masala
    3. Handful of chopped fresh cilantro (Coriander leaves )


Wash prawns and marinate for half an hour with all the spices listed under it.

Heat oil in a pan and add pounded whole garam masala and bay leaves to it (item 2.1-2.6). Fry the marinated prawns on medium high heat till the color changes. Remove and reserve it.

Add chopped onions and green chilies to the same oil and fry till it turns light brown. Next to go in is the coconut paste. Fry on low heat. Add rest of the ginger garlic paste and fry. Once the raw smell goes away turn off the heat and add yogurt to it. Mix it well. Turn on the heat and add the fried prawn along with biriyani masala. Give a taste test and adjust the seasoning. Let everything cook together for a while ( 5 mins ).


In a heavy bottom pan take enough water and salt. Bring it to a boil. Now add pre soaked rice. Cook till its just done. Drain the water and spread rice on a flat plate.

Now its time to arrange in layers, the procedure of which differs slightly based on whether you want to use a conventional oven or a microwave.

In Conventional oven

Take a oven safe bowl and rub it’s inside with oil or ghee. Layer the bottom of the vessel with rice. Now pour prawn masala along with its oil all over it. Add chopped cilantro and sprinkle biriyani masala powder over it. Cover it up with another layer of rice. Wrap it up with aluminium foil and cook in the oven for 30 mins at 375F.


In Microwave

Take a microwave safe bowl and arrange rice and prawn masala as mentioned above. Cover it with a cling wrap or Microwave safe cover.

Cook it on high power for 5 mins. Allow it to stand for another 15 mins before you serve.

Enjoy with fresh salad or raita (beaten thick yogurt with chopped onions, coriander, salt).


Anonymous said...

Hi, at malabar we use a rice called Jeerakashala/kaima rice for biriyanis instead of Basmati rice .

Somtapa Brahmachari said...

Thank you so much for letting me know that.