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Fish biryani

A mouthwatering fish biryani (traditionally known as machi biryani) to complement any celebration! It's a layered Basmati rice dish made with spicy haddock fish fillets and uses the "dum" method to create a truly unique and flavorful meal. This recipe is protein-rich and packed with fibre, using less oil and lots of tomatoes and pepper to create a nutritious recipe.



Saffron Milk

  • 2 tablespoons oat milk unsweetened
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron

Biryani Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10 green cardamoms seeds only, crushed
  • 3 black cardamoms seeds only, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic fresh, grated or crushed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 onions small, thinly sliced
  • 3 tomatoes medium size, on the vine variety, washed and cut into small chunks
  • 6 dried plums small
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons red chilli powder sweet mild variety, adjust to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 bell pepper orange or red, washed and cut into small cubes


  • 2 teaspoons red chilli powder sweet mild variety, adjust to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 800 g haddock 5 frozen fillets, thawed, cut into medium pieces, thoroughly dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, for pan frying

Basmati Rice

  • 2 cups basmati rice washed thoroughly, drained
  • 6 cups water, for boiling rice


  • 1/2 cup mint fresh, washed, finely chopped


Saffron Milk

  1. In a small ramekin, combine saffron with milk, mix and set aside. 

Biryani Sauce

  1. In a large pot, heat two tablespoons of oil on low to medium heat. 
  2. Add the cumin, cinnamon, bay leaves and crushed cardamoms. Temper the spices in oil until they become fragrant but be careful not to burn them. 
  3. Add garlic, ginger and onions and sauté on medium heat until golden brown. 
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, plums, turmeric, garam masala, chilli powder and salt. 
  5. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes are soft and mushy. 
  6. Finish the biryani base masala by adding pepper and cook for two minutes. 
  7. Turn off the heat, and transfer to a large bowl. Set the pot aside to be used for the dum biryani (only if it is oven-safe). 


  1. Meanwhile, prepare the fish for pan-frying. Combine salt, chilli powder and ginger powder and sprinkle over the fish fillets, ensuring that both sides of the fish are well-coated. 
  2. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat and place half the fillets in the pan. You don't want to "cook" the fish fillets; rather sear them so that the spices can stick to the fish. Turn the fish over and sear the other side as quickly as possible. 
  3. Remove the fillets as soon as feasible and repeat the process with the remaining fillets. Once all the fillets are seared, set them aside. 

Basmati Rice

  1. Preheat the oven to 380° F. In a medium saucepan, add the rice and water and bring to a boil. This will take anywhere from seven to eight minutes over high heat. 
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-high to prevent overflow and cook the rice at boiling point for one minute. Drain the rice immediately and prepare for layering the fish biryani. 

Layer and Garnish 

  1. Begin layering the biryani by starting with the bottom layer. Carefully arrange half of the fish fillets in the pot. 
  2. Place one-third of the cooked rice on top of the fish. 
  3. Spread half of the thick tomato-pepper sauce on top of the rice. 
  4. Lay the remaining fish fillets on top of the sauce in a single layer. 
  5. On top of the fish fillets, add half of the remaining rice. 
  6. Cover the rice with the remaining sauce. 
  7. Finally, add the remaining rice, garnish with mint and pour over the saffron-infused milk. 
  8. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and send it to a preheated oven for 20 minutes, 
  9. Once the fish biryani is cooked, serve and enjoy with your favourite salad, chilli or carrot achar (pickle). Enjoy! 
  10. TIP: The fish biryani (made from frozen haddock fillets) will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two to three days. Reheat gently over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave. This fish biryani recipe is best enjoyed fresh.

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