Prawns are an excellent choice for making a seafood biryani. Juicy and succulent, these take on the rich flavours from the spices and aromatics but care must be taken to cook it just right without going rubbery.
This recipe comes from the famous Bangala Table in the Chettinad region. Though the style of biryani is not traditional Chettiar and has influences from the Andhra region, it has become very famous as a signature dish of the hotel.
1. 1 kg long grain/basmati rice
2. Salt, to season
3. 1 cup mint leaves; chopped
4. 1 cup coriander leaves; chopped
5. 3 tbsp vegetable oil
6. 3 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
7. 12 green cardamom
8. 2 cinnamon bark (4 inch piece)
9. 4 dried bay leaf
10. 3 medium red onions; finely chopped
11. 6 green chillies; whole
12. 2 tbsp garlic paste
13. 2 tbsp ginger paste
14. 1 ½ tbsp red chilli powder (adjust to heat preferences)
15. 1 tbsp turmeric powder
16. 2 large ripe red tomatoes; finely chopped
17. 1 kg medium sized prawns; deshelled and deveined
18. 2 tsp lemon juice
19. 1 tsp sugar
20. 5 tbsp plain yoghurt/curd
21. 5 tbsp thick coconut milk
22. ½ cup coriander leaves; finely chopped
23. 2-3 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
24. Juice of ½ lemon
1. Wash the rice a couple of times, soak for an hour and drain. Heat water in a pan and add the rice; season with salt and cook till the rice is just done. Drain and keep aside.
2. Heat the oil and ghee in a large pan; add the cardamom and cinnamon. When lightly aromatic, add the bay leaves and then add the chopped onions. Sauté for about 2 minutes and then add the green chillies, ginger garlic paste.
3. Continue to sauté till the onions are lightly browned and then add the turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Mix well and add the tomatoes; season with salt and sauté till the tomatoes turn mushy and the masala comes together.
4. Add the mint and coriander leaves; mix well to combine. Add the prawns, lemon juice, sugar, curd and coconut milk and mix well to combine. Cook on medium heat till the prawns are done (about 4-5 minutes). Add a little water if the mixture seems too dry. Prawns need not be cooked for long but if you prefer a little more bite, then cook for longer. Remove from heat and keep aside.
5. In a large deep bottomed vessel, add a layer of the curry, then layer on top with some rice followed by another layer of curry and then rice again till three layers are built up.
6. Squeeze juice of ½ lemon and drizzle the ghee on the top. Garnish with coriander leaves and cover the vessel tightly. Return to low heat and cook covered for 5 minutes. Keep covered for another 30 minutes.
7. Serve warm, scooping through all the layers with raita and pappad.