Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fish Biryani with Hamour

I work in the marine department of a real estate company and although my boss is an avid swimmer and diver I am the last person who will ever go in the water (I can’t swim!!). I am extremely scared of the water and wont even go in a boat without a million thoughts running in my head (all similar to the fate of the titanic). However, I do love all things that come from the sea (fish, prawns, crab.. yum!!, and was thrilled when one of our divers brought a fresh catch for the sea for me!! Yay! I got an excellent fillet of Hamour (Grouper) fish (all nicely cleaned and de-boned) weighing almost 2 kgs! When I was younger my mom used to make Hamour Biryani and that was the first thing that came to my mind. I gave a quick call to her and got the recipe. This was my first attempt at making a fish biryani and when I told Latif what I was making he made a face coz he had never eaten it before and thought it would taste fishy!! This fish is meaty and has a great flavour to it. Even after cooking for long it didn’t become rubbery. It is important to use a fish with white, firm flesh (King fish will also do) here as it needs to stand up to the cooking and not dissolve in the masala. Since the biryani was only for the two of us I used half of it to make the biryani and the other half went for fish cutlets (recipe coming soon!).

Recipe – Serves 4


1 Kg Hamour (Fillets Cut Into Serving Portions)
For the Marinade
2 Tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
For the Masala
4 Large Onions (Thinly Sliced)
2 Medium Tomatoes (Sliced)
4 Green Chilies (Slit Vertically Halfway)
1 Cup Yogurt
2 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
1/2 Cup Hara Masala*
1 Tbsp Red Chili Powder
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tsp Coriander Seeds Powder (Dhanya Powder)
1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder (Haldi)
1 Tbsp Garam Masala Powder
Salt To Taste
1/2 Cup Cooking Oil
For The Rice
2 1/2 Cups Basmati Rice
4 Cardamom Pods
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 Bay Leaves
4 Cloves
Salt To Taste
For The Garnish
1/2 Cup Fried Onions (Sliced And Deep Fried)
Coriander Leaves (As Needed)
Mint Leaves (As Needed)
1/4 Tsp Garam Masala Powder
1/2 Cup Milk
Food Color (Yellow, Red or Orange)
Saffron Strands
1 Tbsp Ghee

*To make the hara masala, grind a bunch of coriander leaves, a bunch of mint leaves and 10 green chilies along with some water to a smooth consistency. This masala can be used in any chicken or meat gravy.

  1. Wash the fish with water and pat dry with paper towels. In a plate, mix the marinade ingredients and marinade the fish in it. Cover and keep aside. Wash the rice changing the water two-three times and keep for soaking.

  2. Heat the ½ cup oil in a wide bottomed pot; add the sliced onions and green chilies. Fry on high for two to three minutes then turn the heat to low. Keep stirring every few minutes to ensure the onions do not burn; we want to get them to a golden brown color and not dark brown. When the onions become golden brown, add the tomatoes. Turn the heat to high again; add the salt, ginger garlic paste, red chili powder, coriander seeds powder, turmeric powder, and garam masala powder. Mix it well and lower the heat. Cook till the tomatoes are soft. Add the Hara masala and yogurt and mix well. Add the lemon juice, mix well and taste. Adjust all the seasonings as per taste. Lower the heat and gently nestle the marinated fish pieces in the masala. Lay each piece separately ensuring not to overlap. Do not touch the masala surrounding it. Pour all the marinade remaining in the plate along with the fish on top. Do not stir. Cover the pot with a lid and let the fish cook on low heat. The fish will cook very quickly so keep checking. We will be cooking it once again in the dum so be careful not to overcook it. Once the fish is done, turn off the heat and gently remove the fish pieces from the masala and keep on a separate plate. Stir the masala well.

  3. In a separate pot, heat 6 cups of water; throw in the whole garam masalas and salt. Keep a wide colander ready in the sink to drain the rice. When the water comes to a boil, add the rice and let it cook on high, uncovered till the rice is almost done. It is very important to watch the rice closely at this point as we want it to be cooked but not completely. There should still be a bite to the grain and must not be easily squished between your fingers. Once the rice reaches this point, turn off the heat and drain the rice in the colander.

  4. When the rice is boiling keep all the garnish ingredients ready near the stove. Wash and chop the coriander and mint leaves. Dissolve the saffron and food colour in the milk. We want to layer the biryani while the rice is still steaming. We need a big bottomed as well high pot for this. Place the pot on the stove, and begin with a layer of the rice. We need three layers of rice and two layers of masala so divide accordingly. Add a layer of masala and sprinkle some fried onions, coriander leaves and mint leaves on it. Add another layer of rice followed by a layer of the masala. Add the last layer of the rice and Pour the colored milk on the rice evenly. Sprinkle the garam masala powder on the rice and place the ghee on top. Gently keep the cooked fish pieces on top of the rice and garnish with all the fried onions, coriander leaves and mint leaves.

  5. Cover the pot with a tight lid to ensure no steam escapes from it. Keep the flame on high for a minute or two to ensure sufficient heat is generated in the pot. Turn the heat to low and keep cooking till steam starts forming on top and the rice is complete cooked.

  6. Once the rice is done, turn off the heat and remove the fish pieces to a separate plate. Mix all the layers together and serve in individual plates with a piece of fish.
Happy Eating!!

1 comment:

  1. I'm not a swimmer either but like you, I love seafood! What a delicious looking recipe! :D


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