Feb 23, 2012

Prawn Biryani - Malabar Style!!!

Hi guys!!!

Biryani is a weekly once dish that I mostly try and fit in for a quick and delicious weekend lunch. When I say quick, yes it means I mostly prepare the biryani as a one-pot meal in the cooker. Just chop and put everything together in the cooker and there it is ready in 15 minutes :-) Occasionally, I do try to spend more time in preparing the biryani.

There used to be a Kerala restaurant named "Thattukada" in my office building in Chennai and their biryanis are really good. There certainly is something about having a layered dum biryani and Keralites are very good at that I must agree. I have always liked Kerala food and their layered version of biryanis is something that I try when I feel like the biryani sure needs to be special that day.

When I say special and talk about more time, it does not mean the process is difficult. It only means more attention to some details. Though, the procedure is simple the time taken is a little longer but the oven does the work so we really need not worry :-) The whole process involves, preparing the spiced rice, the gravy and layering them and cooking on dum. Finally garnishing with fried onions and cashews. Like I said simple!!

Now lets see the recipe.


For the spiced rice:
Basmati rice - 2 cups
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch
Cloves - 4
Bay leaves - 2
Star Anise - 2
Cardamom - 2
Salt - as required
Ghee - 1 tbsp

For Marination:
King Prawns (deveined and cleaned) - 12 or 15
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Corriander powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1 tsp
Lemon juice - 2 tsp

For the prawn gravy:
Onion - 1 big
Tomato - 1 big
Chillies - 2
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic - 2 cloves
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Corriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp

For garnishing:
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Onion - 1 lengthwise slit
Cashews - 10 broken


1. Marinate the prawns with the ingredients listed for marination and let it rest for an hour. Also, soak the rice for an hour, drain and set aside.
2. To prepare the spiced rice, heat the ghee in a pressure cooker and add all the whole spices and let them sizzle. Now add the completely drained rice and saute for a while. (It is important to make sure that u completely drain the rice to avoid sticky result)
3. Add 3 cups of water and salt and close the lid and let it cook under pressure upto 2 whistles or for 10 minutes. When done let it sit till the gravy is done.
4. To prepare the gravy start with shallow frying the marinated prawns. Just fry for a few mins in medium flame and keep aside. Do not drain the excess masala from the prawns 'coz we would be using it in the gravy.
5. Now heat some oil in a kadai. When it is getting hot, grind the chillies, ginger and garlic into a paste.
6. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onions and saute till crisp. Next add the ground chilly and ginger mixture and fry till raw smell leaves.
7. Now add the chopped tomatoes and saute till they combine well to form a masala paste.
8. Now add the shallow fried prawns along with the excess masala and the oil that u used to fry them. Combine well and keep mixing. Check the spice level and if required add the masala powders listed under gravy.
9. Add about 1/3 cup of water and salt and close and cook for 5 minutes. When the raw masala smell leaves add the garam masala powder and mix well once and switch off and remove from heat.
10. For the layering, take an oven safe dish and grease it well with ghee. First layer the dish with the rice(almost 2/3 of the whole) and then pour a layer of the gravy (all of it). Sprinkle some ghee and finish the layer with the remaining rice. Sprinkle some ghee and a dash of garam masala powder and seal it well with aluminium foil and cook it in a preheated oven at 180C for 20-25 minutes.
11. Once the cooking is done, let the rice cool in the sealed manner for atleast 15 minutes.
12. Prepare the granishing by frying onions and cashews in ghee. Use this when serving.

Note: When serving you can slightly mix up the layers but it is optional. Also, I have mentioned a 3 layer biryani with just 1 layer of gravy. If preparing in huge quantities in bigger vessels (in actual dum over the stove top) u can use more layers. But the rice should always be the final layer.

The yummylicious Malabar prawn biryani is ready to serve. I like them with raita and omelette. Any usual biryani accompaniment should be good too!!!

I am sending this recipe for the Kerala Kitchen Event - Feb 2012  hosted at Roshan's Cucina!!!


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