Weeknight Fish Biryani (with leftover rice)

I just can’t get enough of this spicy, authentic fish biryani!! One pot, leftover rice and tons of flavors. 

It’s a spicy Thursday!

You guys

Meet your new favorite biryani recipe. 

The biryani you’re going to eat for dinner, lunch and make for company. 

An Indian version of chicken and rice. 

Hmmm…. fish and rice. 

If you like spicy dishes , you will want to make this. 

Serve plain or with raita / plain yogurt. 


(move cursor over photos for captions)

Skill level – Advanced

Weeknight Fish Biryani (with leftover rice) 


3 medium Tilapia fish fillets ( 1 1/2 pounds or 3/4 kg), cut into 1 1/2 inch thick slices

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder, divided

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 cup vegetable or corn oil

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick 

2 cardamoms

3 cloves

1 teaspoon peppercorns (refer notes_1)

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 cups thinly sliced onion (about 1 medium)

4 medium garlic, grated

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1/2 (heaped) cup finely chopped roma tomato (about 1 1/2 medium)

1 tablespoon coriander powder

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

4 cups (lightly packed) leftover white rice, room temperature


1. Mix fish, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder until well coated.  Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wide, non-stick pan (refer notes_5) over high heat. When moderately hot, add half the fish pieces (in a single layer). Cook (without disturbing) for 1 1/2 minutes or until deep golden on the bottom. Turn fish pieces over and cook for another minute until deep golden on the other side. Remove fish one at a time (else they might break) with a slotted spoon, draining as much oil as possible and place fried fish on a plate. Repeat process with remaining fish pieces. (refer notes_2)

3. Reduce heat to medium, add bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, peppercorns and fennel seeds, into the remaining hot oil. Let peppercorns and fennel seeds crackle and pop. Immediately add thinly sliced onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, saute for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add grated garlic and ginger and continue to cook until onions are golden, about 2 to 3 more minutes. 

4. Add chopped tomato, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder, 1 tablespoon coriander powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute for about 5-6 minutes, until tomatoes are mashed, spices are toasted and glossy (refer pictures).

5. Add coconut milk, cilantro and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, stir and let cook for exactly 30 seconds. 

6. Reduce heat to medium-low, place all fish pieces over the cooked mixture (along with any juices on the plate) and then evenly top with cooked rice. Pack it down slightly, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. 

7. Turn off heat, uncover, gently stir to mix everything, cover again and let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Serve plain or with yogurt / raita

Makes about 4 servings 


  1. Peppercorns give a subtle flavor and authenticity to the dish. But, you could avoid if serving to children or prefer less spicy.
  2. Don’t be alarmed with the amount of oil (it is biryani after all😀). The oil is used for both frying the fish and making biryani. So, drain as much as oil as possible while removing cooked fish. 
  3. Use very thinly sliced onions and finely chopped tomato. It really speeds up the cooking process.
  4. Make sure rice is at room temperature. If using rice from refrigerator, pop it in the microwave for about a minute, until no longer cold. 
  5. Use a 8 to 9 inch wide and at least 3 inches tall non-stick pan with a tight fitting lid. 
  6. Do not reduce the amount of fish.




You may also like


Leave a Reply to Kelly @ Kelly Lynns Sweets and Treats Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *