Eid Mubarak! A Seafood Biryani

Mallika Basu - Eid Mubarak! A Seafood Biryani

Posted 2nd October 2008

Eid-Ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the Holy month of fasting for Muslims.

In India, I’d be celebrating with mounds of Goat Meat Biryani, Seviyan and Shammi Kebabs. Our Hindu family never missed an opportunity to celebrate in style, irrespective of the religion in question.

But 12 years of living in London later I’ve resigned myself to missing out as my family indulge themselves back home.

As fate would have it, I got a chance to do something a bit special myself this year. Asian Woman magazine got in touch, requesting festive Eid recipes. I immediately got thinking about how to simplify a Biryani without compromising method, taste or authenticity.

And Seafood Biryani was born, with gorgeous seafood and sublime ghee. But this is a festive treat people. Leaving ghee out would be like cooking Christmas turkey in a George Foreman Grill.

Serve this with a simple Raita and Firni for a decadent meal inspired by a real celebration.

Feeds 4:

  • 1 large onion
  • 5 tbsp ghee
  • Salt to taste

For the seafood:

  • 100 gm squid, sliced
  • 100gm monkfish tails
  • 100 raw shelled king prawns
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Half tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 pinches freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Half inch ginger
  • 1 green chilli
  • 10 sprigs fresh coriander
  • 1 tsbp thick yogurt

For the rice

  • 250gm Basmati rice
  • 1 brown cardamom
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 whole black peppers
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 10 strands saffron

Warm the milk in a microwave for 20 seconds and leave the saffron to soak in it. In a blender, blitz the yogurt, coriander leaves, ginger, garlic and green chillies with two tablespoons of water.

Next bring two tablespoons of ghee to heat in a large frying pan over a high flame and slice the onions. When the oil is hot, add a third of the onions and stir for a minute until it becomes pale golden.

Then add the masala paste and all the powders and stir for anoher five minutes until all the spices turn to a darker shade of green. If the spices get stuck to the bottom of the pan, just add a little hot water to rescue it.

The raw smell of the spices will give way to a lovely delicate aroma. Grate in the fresh nutmeg, add salt to your taste and stir in the fresh seafood. As the prawns start turning pink, turn the flame off and leave the mix to sit.

Now turn the oven to 210 degree centigrade (190 for fan assisted) while you make the rice. Wash the rice under a cold tap until the water runs clear. In a large pot, bring another tablespoon of ghee to heat over a high flame. When it starts sizzling, add in the whole spices. Then measure the washed rice into a mug and stir it in.

In a few seconds of stirring, the rice will turn brilliant white. Nw measure twice as much hot water as rice in the same mug and add to the rice. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook covered until nearly done. The rice should be swollen but still retain a bite. Strain it and set aside.

In the meantime, fry the remaining onion in another tablespoon of oil.

Finally assemble the Biryani. In a deep and round oven-safe bowl create an inch thick layer of rice. Arrange the seafood mixture on top. Then add another layer of rice to cover the seafood, scatter half the fried onions and one pinch of the nutmeg. Finish off with the remaining rice. Pour over the tablespoon of rose water and the saffron milk and strands all over.

Seal tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot with the fried onions.

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