A step by step method to get flavorful and delicious prawn biryani, with easy to find ingredients and a simple process. An absolutely show stopping dish!
What is prawn biryani?
Biryani is a delicious dish made from layering rice with a mixture of yogurt and spice marinated meat, chicken or prawns.
In this case, I used prawns and the combination of the yogurt and ginger garlic marinated prawns with the rice was fantastic. I absolutely loved the recipe! Biryani made with prawns is definitely a combination you should try.
What makes this easy prawn biryani recipe so good?
The fact that it’s easy! I simplified the steps as clearly as I could. I myself was overwhelmed researching different methods of biryani, with some recipes having very convoluted steps. This recipe brings it down to basics it so that biryani can be part of a regular weeknight meal rotation.
The recipe I ended up adapting, is from Indian Healthy Recipes. It seemed like the simplest to follow, and I changed it up based on my preferences.
Even though it’s easy, this biryani recipe is so packed with flavor that it makes for a really special meal. Perfect for an occasion or when you have people over.
I used ingredients that are very accessible, with spices simplified into easy to find ones. Instead of making a homemade biryani spice blend, I used a ready made blend and enhanced it with a few more spices.
The spice level is also moderate, so this is kid friendly as well. My kids actually asked for a second plate each!
What are the ingredients in prawn biryani?
For the rice:
What kind of rice to use for prawn biryani? Basmati rice is the way to go. You need basmati rice, a bay leaf, and a few cardamom pods to flavor the rice.
To marinate the prawns:
Prawns: small or large are fine, you’ll just need to adjust cooking time according to size. You need 300 g after cleaning (about 12 ounces)
Yogurt: A very traditional component of a marinate for biryani. You can use plain or Greek yogurt, you only need 1/3 cup.
How to make ginger garlic paste:
Ginger Garlic Paste: This can be store bought, but it’s so easy to make at home. You need to blend together an equal amount of peeled sliced ginger and garlic cloves with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil or so until a paste forms. I used 60 grams each of ginger and garlic.
I have a whole blog post on this, if you want to check it out!
I had plenty left over, which I stored in the fridge. Leftovers can be stored for 2-3 weeks in the fridge or frozen for up to 6 months
Spices: A mix of biryani masala spice, turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt. Keep in mind red chili powder isn’t the same as cayenne pepper which would add a lot of heat!
For the biryani gravy:
First, I’d prepare the onions, then proceed with the rest of the ingredients.
How to caramelize onions for biryani:
First, start with a heavy bottomed pan so that the onions won’t burn. Heat some vegetable oil- enough to coat the bottom of the pan. The pan should be on medium high heat.
Add some thinly sliced onions once the oil is hot. (I used a yellow onion, but this will work with any color onion). Stir occasionally and let the onion sizzle and change color.
Keep cooking until onions turn dark golden brown, watching carefully so onions don’t burnt.
Besides caramlized onions, the other ingredients you need are:
Whole spices: bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves
Spice powders: cumin powder, cinnamon, biryani masala powder, red chili powder, salt and pepper to taste
Diced tomatoes with sauce: A can of diced tomatoes with all the liquid thrown in too
Fresh herbs: chopped fresh mint and coriander
How to make prawn biryani:
Since biryani is a layer of cooked rice and a prawn biryani gravy, theres a few steps involved to getting this layering.
Cook the rice:
First step is to cook the rice. To properly cook basmati rice, you want to rinse it well, soak for 30 minutes, then rinse again well. This will get rid of any extra starchiness so that the riee is firm and each grain defined, as opposed to mushy.
The ratio of rice to water is about 1.5 cups rice to 3 cups of water. Basically, you want the water to cover the rice by about an inch.
Boil the water with the aromatics (the bay leaf and cardamom pods) then once it comes to a boil, add the rinsed and drained rice, boil, then cover with a tight fitting lid and reduce heat to a low simmer.
Cook for 15-20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Let stand for about 5 minutes off the heat.
To marinate the prawns:
While your rice is soaking, you might take that opportunity to marinate the prawns. Basically stir together the prawns with all the marination ingredients (yogurt, ginger garlic paste, spices). Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
To make the biryani gravy:
Heat oil in a large skillet. Fry the bay leaves, cardamom pods and cloves for 10 seconds, then add ginger garlic paste and fry for another 30 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes and all the dry spices and fresh herbs. Simmer, taste for seasoning. Add the prawns and caramelized onions back in and simmer for another few minutes until prawns have cooked through. Set aside, that’s your biryani gravy ready for assembling!
Assemble the biryani for the final step:
Lightly oil the bottom of a large pot. Layer half the cooked rice, followed by all the prawn biryani gravy, then the second half of rice. I added a handful of rice to the pot I prepared the prawn gravy in and mixed it to get a nice color, then added it on top of the second half of the rice.
Cover this pot tightly with foil or a very tight fitting lid, and put on low heat for 15-20 minutes to steam, infusing the whole biryani with flavor. Remove from heat, let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a serving plate and enjoy!
What to serve biryani with?
Traditionally, raita is a great choice- a yogurt and cucumber salad. You could also serve with plain yogurt or a very simple green salad.
You can also make simple naan bread for a really delicious side.
For the rice:
- 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
- 3 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cardamom pods
For the prawn marination:
- 300 g prawns, cleaned (weight is without shell and after cleaning), can use shrimp
- 1/3 cup yogurt
- 1 heaped tsp ginger garlic paste *See notes
- big pinch turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp biryani masala spice powder
- 1/4 tsp red chili powder
- pinch salt
For the biryani gravy:
- 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cardamom pods
- 4-5 cloves
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp biryani masala spice powder
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1 heaped tsp ginger garlic paste
- 1 can diced tomatoes (400g or 15 oz)
- 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
- salt and pepper to taste
For the rice:
- Wash the rice, then soak for 30 minutes. Drain, and rinse again.
- Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil, and add the bay leaf and cardamom pods. Add the drained rice, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid. The water should cover the rice by an inch or so, add a little more if you need to. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed, then set aside.
For the prawns:
- In a bowl, mix together the prawns with the yogurt, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, biryani masala, red chili powder and salt and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes (you can do this while the rice is cooking).
To make the biryani gravy and assemble:
- Add the vegetable oil to a large skillet or pot and heat on medium high heat. Once oil has heated up, add the onion slices, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized. This might take around 7-8 minutes. Once onions have browned, remove from the skillet onto paper towels to absorb some of the oil.
- If you need to, add a little more oil to the skillet, then fry the bay leave, cardamom pods, and cloves for 10 seconds or so. Add the ginger garlic paste, and fry for 30 seconds or so.
- Add the diced tomatoes, the chopped coriander and mint, along with the cumin, cinnamon powder, biryani masala, red chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a few minutes, and add the caramelized onions back in.
- Add the marinated prawns to the skillet, and cook for 3 minutes or so, until prawns have curled up into a c and are cooked through. Dont' overcook so they don't turn rubbery, they won't take much time at all. Set this prawn gravy aside.
- Lightly grease the bottom of a large pot with oil, then layer half the cooked rice. Add the full amount of the prawn gravy, followed by the second half of the rice. If you'd like a little of the rice to be colorful, you can stir a scoop of rice into the pot that the prawns were cooked in to add some of that sauce color to it, then sprinkle it on top of the second layer of rice.
- Cover the rice pot with a very tight fitting lid, or a tight layer of aluminum foil, then steam on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Set aside for another 15 minutes, then uncover and serve hot.
Easy Prawn Biryani by everylittlecrumb on Jumprope.