Pakistani Fish Biriyani

Ingredients (Serves 5)

  1. Fish, boneless (Rohu, tilapia, sea bass etc)– 500 gm, cubed

2. Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Chilli powder – 1 tsp

Kashmiri chilli powder – 1 tsp

Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp

Coriander powder – 1 tsp

Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp

Pepper powder – 1/2 tsp

Ajwain / aymodakam – 1/8 tsp

Corn starch – 1.5- 2 tbsp

Lemon juice – 1.5 tbsp

Salt – As required

3. Oil – To deep fry

4. Onion – 3 medium, thinly sliced

5. Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp

6. Yoghurt – 1/4 + 1/4 cup

7. Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder – 1 tsp

Chili powder – 1.5 tsp

Garam masala powder – 2 tsp (recipe below)

8.  Green chilies – 3 – 4, slit

Sandalwood extract – Few drops

Kewra water – 1/2 – 1 tsp

Saffron – 1 pinch soaked in 2 tbsp hot water

9. Salt – As required

For the rice

10. Basmati rice – 2 cups, soaked in enough water for at least 30 minutes and then drained

Whole spices – bay leaf – 2, cloves – 6, green cardamom – 3, cinnamon stick –1 inch broken, kala jeera – 2 pinches

Ghee – 1 tsp

Salt – To taste

To layer

11. Kewra water – 1 tsp

Garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp

Meetha Attar / edible perfume – Few drops (optional)

Fried onion – 1/2 cup

Ghee or hot oil (used to fry onion) – 1 tbsp


  1. Deep fry onion till golden brown (do not over fry). Drain on to a paper towel. Remove 1/3 cup fried onion for garnish. Blend the remaining fried onion with 1/4 cup yoghurt.
  2. Combine the fish pieces with ingredients numbered 2. Let rest for 10 minutes. Deep-fry the fish pieces until browned. Remove to a paper towel.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp ghee or oil) in a pan. Add ginger-garlic paste and cook for 1 – 2 minutes over low heat till the raw smell of ginger-garlic paste completely disappears. Add ground fried onion and yoghurt paste, remaining 1/4 cup yoghurt and mix well. Cook for a minute or two over low heat. Add spice powders numbered 7. Mix well. Cook for a few minutes over low heat until oil starts separating. Add 1/4 cup fried onion (optional), few slit green chilies, 1/2 tsp kewra water, few drops of meetha athar/sandal wood extract and a few saffron strands soaked in 1/4 cup hot water. Mix well. Taste-check the gravy and add salt and garam masala powder, if required. Finally add fried fish pieces and mix gently. Cook for a minute and switch off. Set aside until rice is ready.
  4. Boil water in a large vessel adding the remaining ingredients numbered 10. Taste-check for salt. The water should be slightly salty. Add drained rice and cook until the rice is  95 % cooked. Drain well.
  5.  In a heavy-bottomed vessel, smear 2 tsp ghee and spread half of the fish masala at the bottom. Top it with half of the hot cooked rice followed by  2 – 3 tbsp fried onion, pinch of garam masala powder, 1/4 tsp kewra water, 3/4 tbsp ghee / oil (that was used for frying onion) and a few drops of meetha athar / sandal wood extract. Top it with the remaining fish masala followed by the remaining cooked rice, fried onion, garam masala powder, kewra water, 1-2 drops of meetha attar and 1 tbsp ghee/oil. Sprinkle 2 – 3 tbsp hot water over the top. Cover tightly with an aluminium foil. Bake at 400 F for 13 – 15 minutes. OR Heat a wide tawa over high heat for a few minutes. Once hot, bring down the heat to medium. Place the biriyani pot on top of the tawa. Top the biriyani pot with lid and place a heavy weight on top. Cook for  3 minutes. Bring down the heat to the lowest flame. Place the biriyani pot and cook for 8 – 10 minutes over the lowest flame. Switch off. Let it rest unopened for 20 minutes in the biriyani pot. Yummy fish biriyani is ready to enjoy! Serve hot with kachumber salad and green chutney.

Garam masala powder recipe

  1. Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp
  2. Whole black pepper – 1.5 tsp
  3. Cloves – 6 – 8
  4. Black cardamom – 1
  5. Green cardamom – 4
  6. Cinnamon – 3/4 inch

Grind the above ingredients to a fine powder. You need only about 1.5 – 2 tsp for this recipe. Store the remaining in an air-tight container to use later.

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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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About Maya

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!

Every Recipe Since 2010