Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chemeen Biriyani





Biriyani, is always associated with festivities and celebrations in almost all parts of our country. Depending on the state, district and province our biriyani has different taste all over India. We can name the “HYDERABADI KACHI BIRIYANI” as the maharajah of the biriyanis.


In our small state of Kerala, ranging from the north to south we have differently tasting biriyanis. Towards the north we have biriyani with the rice and the masala separately served. The other parts of kerala have their biriyani more spicy and layered. The palghat biriyani has a small influence from our nighbouring state Tamil Nadu and lastly, the southies put pineapple to their biriyani….


If we are to go on about biriyani, there are stories to write about it. So let’s get into my version of the chemmeen (prawn) biriyani. This time when I made it, I got it right(I am not a biriyani expert), so I thought I would share it with the blog world.






Cast of Characters(Ingredients)

  1. Prawns – 1 kg.
  2. Basmati rice- 4 cups
  3. Onions – 6 (medium ones)
  4. Tomatoes – 4
  5. Garlic – 8 cloves
  6. Ginger- 3” piece
  7. Chilies- 2(you can change the quantity depending on the hotness of your chilies, mine were really hot)
  8. Chilly powder – 1 tsp
  9. Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  10. Kudam puli – 1 small piece
  11. Eastern Fish biriyani masala – 3 tbsp. (it really works)
  12. Yoghurt- 3 tbsp
  13. Salt – to taste(I always use too much salt, so I would like you all to adjust it according to your taste)
  14. Coriander leaves – a handful
  15. Pudina leaves- a handful
  16. Red-orange color- a pinch diluted in water (optional)

The Steps Involved (Method)



  1. Clean and de vein the prawns. Here in the UAE, we get fresh prawns – shelled (it’s a bliss). All we have to do is de vein it,wash it and add a little lime juice to it.

  2. Marinate the fish with the chilly powder, turmeric powder a bit of salt and the kudam puli. Now pressure cook the fish for about a whistle (My mother always does this) .

  3. Slice the onions finely, chop the tomatoes in tiny bits, crush the ginger, garlic and chilies together and finely chop up the coriander leaves.

  4. In a heavy bottom pan, heat oil and add the onions and fry till golden brown(dark brown), to this add the ginger-garlic-chilly paste and fry till it loses the raw smell.

  5. To this add tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Let it cook (keep stirring in between).

  6. Once the mixture in the pan starts releasing oil, add the eastern fish biriyani masala and fry for a min.

  7. Add the yoghurt to this and stir for another 5 min.

  8. Now add the fish from the cooker along with water in it.

  9. Cook this gravy for about 10-15 min., by this time you will have got a thick curry. Now switch off the heat.

  10. In between all these steps a thing that needs to be done is wash the rice and soak it for about 20 min.

  11. In a big pan boil enough water with 4 cardamom pods, 3 cloves and 2” of cinnamon stick and salt. 

     warning:Be careful with the salt if you have more than enough of salt in the masala. The water in which you boil the rice should be salty, but reduce according to the amount of salt you have in your masala. I have had a bad experience in this respect the first time I made biriyani after my wedding. The story is said at the end of the post.

  12. Once the water boils, add the soaked rice and cook until it is 45% is done(hehehehehe.....). I hate it when a recipe says this, I really don't know when it is 45% done... The trick is test the rice at regular intervals. Bite the rice and test, cook it until you feel there is a bite to the rice but it is cooked. The rice gets cooked again during the dum, so if your rice is well done, after the dum it will cook again and become mushy.

  13. Switch off heat and drain immediately.

  14. Now all our prep work is over. The next step is to layer.

  15. Take a pot which you use to put the biriyani on “DUM” and start layering with rice and alternate with the masala, ending with rice.

  16. When you put a layer of rice put a teaspoon of ghee and swirl of diluted color and a couple of pudina leaves on top of it.

  17. Now close the pot as tightly as possibly and put it on dum for 15- 20 min.


Dum Instructions

Dum, is traditionally done in an “aduppu”(it is a traditional stove top used in an Indian household) where the biriyani chembu(pot) is sealed tightly and heated at the top and bottom. But here in the UAE and all cities I don’t think aduppu is an option. So, we poor souls have to make do with our poor old stove top(as if i know to use an aduppu).

On a stove top, take the burner which you can reduce to the lowest flame, heat a tin lid till it is very hot and reduce the flame. Put on your biriyani pot and leave it for at least 30-40 min.

If you have a convection microwave, one where you can fit in your biriyani pot, then the dum can be done in it (like I found recently). I have a Panasonic dimension 4, the Genius and I am in love with it!!!! I have an option call auto kebab in it, I took that option and used the tikka setting for my dum and it works well (I put it in this setting for 20min).
I think, for all the convection microwaves we can use the grill setting for dum (20 min).

Dum Instructions

Dum, is traditionally done in an “aduppu”(it is a traditional stove top used in an Indian household) where the biriyani chembu(pot) is sealed tightly and heated at the top and bottom. But here in the UAE and all cities I don’t think aduppu is an option. So, we poor souls have to make do with our poor old stove top(as if i know to use an aduppu).

On a stove top, take the burner which you can reduce to the lowest flame, heat a tin lid till it is very hot and reduce the flame. Put on your biriyani pot and leave it for at least 30-40 min.

If you have a convection microwave, one where you can fit in your biriyani pot, then the dum can be done in it (like I found recently). I have a Panasonic dimension 4, the Genius and I am in love with it!!!! I have an option call auto kebab in it, I took that option and used the tikka setting for my dum and it works well (I put it in this setting for 20min).
I think, for all the convection microwaves we can use the grill setting for dum (20 min).

Story
It was only a couple of weeks after my wedding. One of my husband’s friend called and told us that he will come over for lunch along with a friend of his!!! I told my husband don’t worry, I will make lunch.” I will make biriyani”, I said. He asked, “Can you do it?”. I told, ”Mere daaye hath ka khel hein!!! I can do it with my eyes closed”(I was dangerously overconfident that day, had to shine in front of my darling husband). I started making my biriyani, made the masala. The masala had a little bit of extra salt in it, but I thought will reduce the salt in rice. The guests came, I served them breakfast,talked to them a bit, and went back to make rice. By this time I had forgotten all about the salt issue of the masala and made rice with the usual salty water and all. To top it all, I remembered the said issue only when I opened the dum to serve lunch. By this time, the damage had been done. Since, we were newly married and considering the fact that I had never attempted to make a biriyani alone in my life, everyone ate the biriyani with raita in which I had not put salt!!!(GOD, I am laughing my head off right now!!! I was close to tears on that day) Poor things…… Thampi… if you ever read this post, I am really sorry and I promise you I make better food now. Please come for lunch some time.

5 comments: