Spiced Fish and Rice, Biryani-style

11:05 am on 18 April 2006

This recipe from the Arabian Gulf is closely related to the biryanis of India. You can also use mussels or prawns instead of the fish. Serve with yogurt and a cucumber salad. Because the rice is partly cooked first, and the rice raw, the fish won’t be overcooked.

(Serves 2)


  • 1 cup long grain rice, rinsed
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons clarified butter, butter oil or butter
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • knob of fresh ginger, sliced into small thin sticks
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 350g firm fresh fish, eg trevally or monkfish, cut into large chunks
  • a small bunch coriander leaves


Put the rice into a medium sized saucepan and add enough water to come up to the first joint of your finger. Sprinkle in a little salt and bring to the boil. Cook the rice for 12-15 minutes until the water has been absorbed but the rice is not fully cooked. In a deep frying pan, heat the clarified butter and stir in the onion. Once it begins to colour add the ginger and cook for a minute or two before stirring in the spices.

Add the chunks of fish and stir into the onion and spice mixture. Season with a little salt. Tip the partly cooked rice into the pan and spread it over the fish. Cover tightly with a lid. Reduce the heat as low as possible and leave to steam for 15 minutes. Check that the rice is tender, then tip the pilaf upside down onto a warm serving platter and sprinkle with the coriander leaves.




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