Kolkata Fish Biriyani

Kolkata fish biriyani

Ingredients (Serves 5)

1. Basmati Rice – 2.5 cups, soaked in enough water for 20 minutes and drained well

    Whole spices – bay leaf – 1, cardamom – 6, cloves – 6, cinnamon stick – 3/4 inch

    Ghee – 1.5 tsp

     Water – As required

     Salt – To taste

2. Fish (tilapia,king fish etc) – 3/4 kg, cut into medium pieces

    Turmeric powder – 3/4 tsp

    Kashmiri chilly powder – 2 tsp

    Salt – To taste

3. Oil – 1/4 cup

4. Onion – 2.5 – 3 cups, thinly sliced

5. Ginger-garlic paste – 1.5 tbsp

    Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

    Kashmiri chilly powder – 1 tsp

    Cumin powder – 3/4 tsp

    Hot water – 1/4 cup

6. Yoghurt – 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp

7. Potato – 3 medium, peeled and halved

9. Garam masala powder – 1+ 1 tsp (Recipe below)

10. Tomato – 1 medium-large, thinly sliced

       Cilantro – 1/4 cup, chopped

       Green chilies – 3, slit

       Mint leaves – 20 – 25

11. Salt – To taste

To layer 

12. Ghee – 1 – 2 tbsp, melted

      Garam masala powder – A few pinches

      Saffron – 1 pinch soaked in 3 tbsp hot milk

       Kewra water( or rose water) – Few drops

       Fried onions – 1/2 cup

Garam masala recipe

13. Green cardamom – 16

      Cloves – 20

      Cinnamon – 1 inch stick

       Mace/ javithri –  A small piece

       Nutmeg – 1/4th of one nutmeg

       White pepper – 1/4 tsp

Grind the above whole spices in the small jar of a mixie or in a coffee grinder. Transfer to an air-tight container. You need only 2 – 3 tsp garam masala powder for this recipe.


1. Marinate fish pieces with the other ingredients numbered 2. Set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Heat 1/4 cup oil and fry the fish pieces in 2 batches until browned on both sides. Remove to a paper towel and set aside.

3. In the remaining oil (add more oil, if required), add sliced onion, little salt and saute until golden brown. Add ingredients numbered 5. Cook until the raw smell of ginger-garlic paste leaves and oil separates. Add yoghurt and mix well. Add salt, to.taste. Next add the potato pieces, 2 – 3 tbsp hot water and cook covered for 8 minutes at medium-low heat until oil separates. Open the lid and sprinkle 1 tsp garam masala powder. Mix well. Cover and cook until the potato pieces are 75 % done. Add fried fish pieces and mix gently. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes. Open the lid and sprinkle 1/2 tsp garam masala powder followed by tomato slices, chopped cilantro and slit green chilies. Cover and set aside.

4. Meanwhile boil water in a large vessel adding whole spices, ghee and salt (ingredients numbered 1). Add soaked and drained rice and cook until rice gets 95% done. Switch off and drain on to a colander.

5. Smear ghee in a heavy-bottomed oven-safe vessel. Add half of the cooked hot rice followed by half of the fish masala, 1 – 2 tsp melted ghee, pinch of garam masala powder, saffron milk and kewra water. Repeat. Finally sprinkle some fried onions, saffron milk and garam masala powder on the cooked rice. Cover tightly with an aluminium foil.

6. Preheat oven at 425 F. Bake the biriyani for 15 minutes. Take it out and set aside for 15 minutes.

OR Heat a large tawa at low heat. Place the biriyani pot and cook for 10 – 15 minutes. Switch off. Let it rest unopened for another 10 – 15 minutes in the biriyani pot. Mix gently. Serve hot with kachumber / raita.

Recipe Courtesy – Zahera Ummat

Kolkata Fish Biriyani

Maya Akhil

Wife, Mother, Blogger and above all, an ardent lover of good food. I cook, serve, and eat with almost the same passion. The divine aroma that fills the kitchen when I cook or bake is simply what keeps me going!

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