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shrimp biryani, prawn biryani

Shrimp Biryani

Marinated shrimp, partially cooked basmati rice arranged in layers and cooked on low flame to perfection. A Hyderabad style dum biryani, a must try delicacy from the subcontinent.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Marination 30 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 895kcal
Author usha


  • 1 2 ½ - 3 quart Saucepan
  • 1 3 quart wide pan
  • 1 Frying Pan or Kadai
  • 1 Colander
  • 1 Aluminum Foil
  • 2 Small Bowls
  • 1 Measuring cup & spoons used a measuring cup that comes with rice cooker, 180ml.


Biryani Masala

  • 8 Coves
  • ½ teaspoon Cardamom Seeds
  • ½ teaspoon Sahajeera or Black Cumin
  • ½ inch Cinnamon Stick


  • 2 lbs Shrimp, raw and shell on I used 16-20 count wild shrimp
  • ¾ cup Yogurt
  • 3 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
  • 12 small Chilies split into two
  • 1 ¼ cup chopped Mint Leaves
  • 1 ¼ cup chopped Cilantro ~ Coriander Leaves
  • Biryani Masala
  • Juice of 1 lime ½ cup
  • 1 ½ Salt adjust to taste

Spices for boiling rice

  • 6 Cardamoms
  • 3 Cloves
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Bay Fower or Biryani Flower
  • 1 teaspoon Sahajeera
  • ½ teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 1 tablespoon of Oil
  • First Full of Salt

Other Ingredients

  • 1 Large Onion, sliced
  • ¾ cup Oil
  • ½ teaspoon of Saffron strands
  • ¾ cup Milk
  • 3 cups Rice, soaked for 30 minutes
  • 1-2 tablespoon Ghee or Butter optional


  • Peel shrimp, wash and squeeze water from shrimp and keep aside. Check notes for tips when using frozen shrimp.
  • Grind all the ingredients listed under biryani masala to a fine powder.


  • Take all the ingredients listed under marinaded in bowl, keeping aside ¼ cup each of mint and coriander leaves. Mix all the ingredients of the marinade and marinate for at least ½ - 1 hour. Prawn biryani does not require too much of marination.

Other Preparations

  • In pan heat oil and fry the onions until light golden brown. You can use a separate frying pan or use the same pot in which you are going to cook biryani in. Keep aside fried onions and ½ the oil.
  • Soak saffron in hot milk.

Cook Rice

  • In a big pot bring water to a boil, add all the spices for boiling rice and mix well.
  • Add rice and cook for 2 ½ - 3 minutes, one good boil, that is rice should roll over with boiling water. At this point rice is 40-50% cooked.
  • Reserve 1 cup of water, though you will need only ¾ cups of water.
  • Dump rice into a colander or a strainer and keep aside. Once this step is ready, immediately assemble biryani for dum style cooking.

Assembling & Cooking

  • Now its time to arrange shrimp and rice in layers; one layer of shrimp and two layers of rice. Then cook on stovetop or rice cooker. These days I prefer stovetop and use to cook in rice cooker over a decade ago.
  • In wide saute pan or rice cooker inner pot, pour ½ the oil at the bottom, arrange shrimp and sprinkle some oil on top of shrimp. For quantity of rice mentioned in the recipe card, you will need at least 3 qt pan/pot and 5 cups cooker, if using a rice cooker.
  • Arrange ½ the quantity of boiled rice on shrimp, sprinkle some oil, ½ fried onions and ½ saffron milk.
  • Repeat the above step for the last layer; spread the remaining rice, sprinkle remaining oil, fried onions and saffron milk.
  • if using ghee or butter, sprinkle it on top layer. If using butter, cut into small cubes or melt and pour on top layer.

Stovetop method

  • Place 2 sheets aluminum foil on the pan which should be wider than the diameter of the pan and then cover with the lid.
  • Fold the extra foil around the pan such that it seals the pan and the lid. Use narrow sheets of foil to seal around the pan.
  • Place an heavy object on the lid. I place a wok upside down and on it cast iron pans. You can use your weight lifting dumbbells or a heavy mortar pestle.
  • Cook on high flame for 10 minutes, reduce the flame to low and cook for another 20 minutes. Let sit for at least half hour before serving.

For rice cooker

  • Cover the cooker and on the rice cooker.
  • Put a heavy container on the top of the cooker lid so that steam doesn’t escape. Ii have a basic cooker and nor not the locking type cooker. So I put a heavy object on the lid. I have not tried this method in fancy rice cooker or electric pressure cooker with rice option.
  • When the rice is cooked and the cooker turns of , let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes before opening the cooker.



  • Measuring Cup - I used the measuring cup that comes with the rice cooker.  1 cup = 180 ml.  All the cup measurements are with this cup. 
  • Shrimp - If using frozen shrimp, make sure it is completely thawed before marinating.
  • Biryani Masala - You can use store bought Biryani mixes instead of biryani masala. I have used Shan Biryani mix before and it tastes good. You can substitute 3-4 teaspoon Shaan biryani mix and adjust chili powder and chillies to your taste.
  • Peppercorns - I did not use peppercorns in biryani masala.  Sometimes I use it. For quantity mentioned in the recipe, I would use 7-8 peppercorns and cut back on number of green chilies.
  • Shrimp Rice Ratio - For 2 lbs of peeled shrimp  use 3 ½ cups of rice.  When using 2 lbs of unpeeled shrimp use 3 cups of rice.  This is the ratio we prefer.  However, if you prefer more rice, add ½ cup of more rice.  Adjust quantity of rice depending on how you preference.
  • Nutrition - Values listed are approximate. 


Serving: 350grams | Calories: 895kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 25g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 245mg | Sodium: 1561mg | Potassium: 585mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1356IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 271mg | Iron: 3mg