Fish Biryani

All types of biryani can be ranked among my favorite dishes. I cannot lie, they are a little time consuming, but they are so worth it. I love spices, all sorts of spices. The spice market is always on my list when I visit a new country and I always come back home with some. Dad always says that with all the spices I have in my kitchen and pantry, I can start my own spice market. He is kind of right, but I cannot help it. Spices are life; isn’t it one way to make the dishes truly stand out?

Many of the Indian rice dishes can almost be middle eastern. Our region was influenced a lot by Indian cuisine and Arabs brought back all the irresistible exotic spices from India, which made their food more sophisticated. We share the love and use of so many spices.

During Ramadan, rice dishes are particularly popular and this one will surely impress. Spicy tender fish, layers upon layers of flavorful fluffy basmati rice, I mean this dish is simply perfect! I must say that I even started using this fish marination for cooking all my fish, even when I am not making biryani. Yes, it is that good!

Let’s get this Biryani cooking!

For many people making biryani is tricky and intimidating, so I will give you simple tips to make cooking this biryani easier. My ultimate tip for you though, is just do it. Cooking is one of those things that you learn by doing. Although I have been cooking since I was 15, I still sometimes feel amazed at how much I become good at cooking a certain dish that I previously thought I would never master, or is too intimidating for me to try cooking. My point is, don’t overthink it, just do it. So, here are the tips.

  1. Always go for long grain basmati rice. Long grain rice gives the right texture of Indian biryani.
  2. Wash the rice twice and then soak for 30 minutes. This will wash off some of the starch and will result in a fluffy grain.
  3. When parboiling the rice, make sure you have enough water in the pot so that the rice is covered with water.
  4. Be careful when stirring the rice and don’t over do it, so that the grain won’t break.
  5. Use your preferred fish, as long as it is firm. I used tilapia here. Whether you choose boneless or bone in fish, is entirely up to you.
  6. Use a heavy bottomed pot to layer the biryani, this is important as not to burn the bottom layer.
  7. Use a simmer ring, if possible, to diffuse heat evenly.
  8. The pot needs to be sealed well as not to allow steam to escape. If you don’t have a pot with a tight-fitting lid, use aluminum foil to seal it.
  9. Do not skip fried onions, mint, or fresh coriander.

If you are looking for more rice recipes, but would like to try something easier, try out the Middle Eastern chicken skewers with spiced rice.

If you tried the recipe, I would love to see your creation. Feel free to tag me on Instagram @thebitterolive.

Fish Biryani

Perfect layers of spicy fish with layers of fragrant rice. The ultimate comfort food.
Course Main Course
Servings 4


For the fish marinade

  • 500 g firm white fish
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Lemon juice as needed

For boiling the rice

  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • Cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 ½ tsp salt

For cooking the fish

  • Oil for cooking
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato finely chopped
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric

For layering

  • Small onion sliced and fried until golden
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves chopped
  • ¼ cup mint leaves chopped


Marinating the fish

  • Mix the spices for the fish marinade and add lemon juice slowly until it forms a paste. It usually takes juices of half a lemon, but it differs a lot depending on type and size of lemons used.
  • Cover the fish with the spices paste and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 20 mins or up to 2 hours.

Soaking the rice

  • Wash the rice twice and soak it for 30 mins.

Cooking the fish

  • Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
  • Add onion and fry till they are slightly browned.
  • Add green chili and ginger garlic paste and fry for 2 minutes.
  • Now add tomato and all the ground spices, half cup water and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the fish pieces along with the marinade.
  • Cook for 5-6 minutes till fish is done and the masala is slightly dry.

Boiling the rice

  • Add rice, whole spices for boiling the rice and ghee along with 5 cups of boiling water to a pot. Cover and cook till almost cooked through.
  • Drain well.

Layering the biryani

  • Add rice to the cooked fish.
  • Sprinkle fried onion, coriander, and mint.
  • Cover the pot tightly with a lid.
  • Let the biryani cook on your lowest heat setting for 25-30 minutes.
  • Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Garnish with fried onions and fried cashew nuts.

2 thoughts on “Fish Biryani”

  1. I am testing this tonight, thank you for sharing! With this COVID situation going on, I am experimenting a lot with recipes and your website is my favorite inspiration.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

Share the article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Related Posts

Eggplant Fatteh

Fatteh is a category of dishes very popular in the Levant which comes in many variations. The essential ingredient in fatteh is pita bread and

baked arayes

Arayes – meat stuffed pitas

I can’t believe that 2019 is over. I am not usually the kind of person who says that time flied, but 2019 passed both very