Meen Biryani: Layers Of Flavours From The Tropical Land
Image Credit: Village Cooking/

Binging on chicken biryani has been a long-lasting taste that will never leave the taste buds or the desire to eat it. Chicken Briyani being the universal language of comfort food in India has multiple variations that run across the length and breadth of the country. Names of those shall not be mentioned, but taking a detour to Kerala will give you Meen Biryani. Yes, it is a ‘mean’ biryani solely for its taste and the fish that makes for the main ingredient. This fish biryani is a gem from the state of Kerala and unknown.

 A Travel History From North To South

If history were to be researched, the very invention of biryani took place with the intervention of Mughals in India. Though biryani was a dish that was being made in Persia, it was brought to the lands of India through the Mughal rulers. A much-relished meal, it was made into variations in the royal kitchens. From chicken to beef, varieties of biryani were prepared by the khanshamas to keep the royals happy.

While there are other theories that suggest biryani is an invention of the Mughal soldiers fighting on the battlefield. It is said that they would throw in the leftover meat, rice, and spices together to be cooked. But however, it was invented it saves lives by the day.

As for biryani’s intervention into the southern states, it travelled from one royal court to another. Other historical accounts suggest it was brought by the Arab traders to Malabar in South India. With the regional spices and cooking culture a different style of biryani was born, unique to the Malabar region with the addition of fish.


    1kg Fish

    1 kg Basmati rice

    2 tbsp Black Pepper powder

    2` medium size Ginger

    11-12 Garlic cloves

    5 Green chillies

    Juice of 1 Lemon

    2 tbsp Red chillie powder

    1tbsp Turmeric Powder

    1 tsp Corn flour

    1 tbsp Vinegar

    5 baby onions

    2 Tomatoes

    1 tbsp Biryani masala

    1 ¼ spoon Garam masala

    1 tbsp Curd

    250 gm Cashews

    250 gm Raisins

    2 pods Cardamom

    2 Cinnamon sticks

    5 Cloves

    2 Star anise

    1 Carrot

    2 tbsp Milk

    2 tbsp Ghee

    A handful of Coriander and Mind leaves





    Grind ginger, garlic, and green chillies into a paste and keep aside.

    In a bowl add red chilli powder, black pepper powder, garam masala, half a teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of ginger, garlic, green chillies, lemon juice, corn flour, and vinegar. Add water as needed and made a paste of it. Now coat the fish pieces with the masala and let it marinate for 20 minutes.

    On medium heat to a pan, add oil and fry the onion until golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

    In another pan add oil and deep fry the marinated fish. Keep it aside.

    Now, to a huge pan pour oil, add onion and salt. Sauté for 2 minutes and then add turmeric powder, pepper powder, green chilli paste, and garlic paste. Mix all and sauté.

    Now add tomato and cook till it is soft. Then add 1tsp of biriyani masala, remaining garam masala and lime juice, curd, and combine all. Add a cup of water, cover, and cook till it leaves oil.

    Meanwhile, rinse and soak basmati rice for 20 minutes.

    Add chopped coriander and mint leaves, ghee, and a layer of fried onions. Mix well and then add fried fish. Mix well with the masala and remove from the heat.

    To a pan add ghee, cashew, and raisins. Sauté till they turn light brown and keep aside.

    To another pan add ghee, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. Sauté and then add shallots, carrots, salt, and 2 cups of water. To this add the rice and some water to let the rice cook.

    In the serving bowl, at the bottom add a layer of fish masala, cover with rice and sprinkle fried onions, fried nuts, coriander, and mint leaves. Keep making layers and finish with a layer of rice.

    Finish by sprinkling turmeric milk on the top.  Serve.

With the tender fish and the unique mix of spices from Kerala, this biryani is sure going to taste different. At the same time, it is a great way of keeping the flavours and style of biryani intact but with the twist of fish.