Hyderabadi Shrimp Biryani

Biryani is traditionally made with meat - chicken or goat. It's an extensive process with marination and cooking times going over a day. This is the simplest and fastest recipe with shrimp as the main star. The biryani masala is freshly roasted and ground. The Shahi jeera (black cumin) spice predominates the flavor of this dish creating a unique experience. Though the ingredient list may seem long, most of the spices are commonly found in an Indian pantry. The entire process takes about an hour.

Serves : 3-4

1 cup shrimp
1 cup rice
1/2 cup yogurt
1 large onion sliced
1/2 inch ginger grated
4 cloves of garlic grated
1/2 cup cilantro leaves and stalks, chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 tsp. turmeric pdr
1/2 tsp. red chili pdr
1/2 lemon juice
few strands of saffron soaked in 1/4 cup of warm milk

Biryani Masala -
1 tbsp. Shahi jeera (black cumin)
1 tbsp. Fennel seeds
4 green cardamoms
5 cloves
1 inch piece of cinnamon

Rice seasoning -
1 bay leaf
3-4 cloves
1 piece mace
1 piece star anise
1 small piece cinnamon
1 large black cardamom

  1. Wash and soak rice in water for 30 mins.
  2. Mildly roast the spices under biryani masala on low heat and grind coarsely.
  3. Clean shrimps and marinate with turmeric, salt, lemon juice, chili pdr and 2 tsp. of biryani masala for 10-15 mins.
  4. In another pot bring the water to boil and flavor it with the rice seasoning spices. Add rice and cook till its about 85-90% done. Drain the water and spread the rice grains.
  5. Heat 2 tbsp. of oil in large pot and saute onions till golden brown. Reserve some of it aside for garnish later.
  6. Add ginger and garlic and saute till the raw smell goes off.
  7. Add the marinated shrimps and fry for just about 3 mins.
  8. Add yogurt and saute the mixture. Add half of the mint and cilantro leaves.
  9. Then layer the cooked rice on top of the shrimp mix. Sprinkle remaining mint leaves, cilantro, some more biryani masala and the reserved brown onions. Also drizzle the saffron milk over the rice.
  10. Close the lid and reduce the heat to low. The shrimp and rice will cook in the steam. After 10 mins, remove off the heat but keep the pot closed till serving time.
  11. While serving make sure to gently mix and lift the shrimps which are at the bottom of the pot.
I served it with pickled radishes and spiced yogurt/raita.



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