Malabar Chemmeen (Prawn) Biriyani

It has been more than a week since my vacation ended and still I get questions like, "You must be still in that hangover!" Being a working mother who arrived the previous day before the school opens, I do not have the option to stay in the hangover for too long! The most interesting fact is that kids get adjusted to their life much faster than we adults do. We tend to sulk a lot when our situation changes. Yes, it did take me a couple of days to sink into reality but the four days I had before the start of work helped me a lot to get back to work much faster than I expected, Alhamdulillah. Yes, I still go into the hangover at times, thinking how alone my parents must be feeling and getting that pinch that every grown-up child must be facing thinking of that situation. Anyway, it is back to normal and life moves on...

I have an allergy of shell fish and therefore cannot have them, but that doesn't mean that I don't share any recipes here, right? Prawns is not something I can eat and nor do I like it much. Due to allergy issues, I avoid it as much as I can, though the kids and HD love to eat it. During Ramadan, when umma was around, I wanted to make prawn biriyani but didn't want to do the cleaning. Unfortunately, the supermarket fish section cleans all type of fish except prawns! Imagine my disappointment... While umma and I were doing some grocery shopping, we saw prawns at a very good price and I told umma my wish. She told me that she would clean it up so that I could make the biriyani. Imagine my excitement! Hehe... So thanks to her, I was able to make it. Though I couldn't eat it, what I did was keep aside some of the masala without the prawns and ate the rice along with it. However, it was so good to see the whole household wholeheartedly enjoying their meal. Off to the recipe, which is the second recipe in the 3-Malabar fish recipes series, the first one which was the fish fry...

Malabar Chemmeen (Prawn) Biriyani
Serves 4


For marination:
1 kg prawns, cleaned and deveined
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
Salt to taste

For masala:
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 meduim onions, thinly sliced
3 green chillies, slit
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp fennel powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
3 tbsp chopped mint leaves
3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste

For rice:
2 1/2 cup basmati rice, washed and drained
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
3 green cardamom
3 cloves
10-15 black pepper
1 star anise
Salt to taste

For dum:
2 tbsp + 1 tbsp ghee
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp raisins
15 cashew nuts, slit
2 tbsp garam masala powder
4 tbsp chopped mint leaves
4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves


Combine the ingredients under "for marination" in a pressure cooker and leave to rest for an hour. Cook on high flame for one whistle and switch off. Allow the pressure to go by itself.

In a saucepan, heat oil. Saute the onions and green chillies till the onions are wilted. Add the ginger garlic paste and cook till raw smell is gone. Add the tomatoes and cook on low flame, stirring occasionally till the masala gets all mashed up. Add the turmeric and red chilli powder and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the cooked prawns along with its liquid into this masala and cook till the sauce thickens. Add in the fennel powder and garam masala powder and cook for another couple of minutes. Adjust the salt, add the coriander and mint leaves. Switch off and reserve.

In a deep saucepan, boil lot of water with the whole masalas and salt. Add in the drained rice and cook on high flame till the water comes to a rolling boil. Allow to cook for around 10 minutes on meduim heat or till the rice is almost 80% done - ie, when you bite in a rice, there will be a little raw portion in the center. Drain immediately and reserve.

In a fry pan, heat 2 tbsp ghee and fry the onions till nicely browned. Fry the cashewnuts and raisins along with it. Reserve.

Heat a tawa for the dum. In a deep saucepan, put the remaining ghee at the bottom. Put in the prawn masala. Sprinkle half the fried onions, garam masala powder, mint and coriander leaves. Put in the rice and sprinkle the remaining of the dum ingredients on top. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and close with the lid. Keep on the heated tawa on meduim-low flame for around 15-20 minutes. To see the process, you can refer to this link! Switch off and keep undisturbed for another 10 minutes.

For serving, take out the aluminuim foil. Mix well with a long spatula. Serve hot with cucumber onion raita and some thenga chammanthi!

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