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Matka Biriyani-Fish----step by step.

Biriyani, baked in a sealed matka or earthen handi/pot/vessel and opened at the table.....subtle earthy flavor....the spices....the basmati rice.....this is my idea of serving biriyani.

Before writing this post I just goggled "matka biriyani" and could not find any post on this...really! just restaurants which serve this!

Low heating the layered biriyani is called dum biriyani. For heating, I use my oven and the matka which I use is a small earthen handi.

Though this is a lengthy post, making this is easy, you can always make the korma a day before and refrigerate it and then make the rice and layer the biriyani OR you can layer the  biriyani and keep when its time for serving, pop in the oven for 20 min and serve hot!

Biriyani is Nidhi's favorite so it has become a part of weekend a rule I prefer to cut down oil when I am cooking for my family. So this biriyani is made with very less oil and ghee. Also I have not garnished with fried onions and fried dry fruits to cut down the oil. Of course when I make for an occassion or when someone is called over I will forgo this rule....but if it is just for family I maintain it. So guys when you are making it you can add ghee/fried dried fruits/caramelized onions etc in each layer and on top.....I just try to make it as healthy as I can.

Though I like to cook biriyani or pulav  in the pressure cooker....sometimes I love to bake in a Matka.

I make fish, chicken, and vegetable biriyani the same way and have taken photos and will update that.

In case you do not have an earthen pot/vessel (you can get it from roadside venders, which is so common in India), you have no other option other than using a steel vessel minus the earthy flavor.

I first make the korma or gravy, then layer boiled rice with the gravy in the matka.
Good quality aged basmati rice is a must for biriyani.
For fish biriyani I do not use garam masala powder, but use whole spices.
This is also called Dum Biriyani.

Let's get cooking!
Note: If you have saffron use 1 tsp in 1/4 cup of warm milk and sprinkle it in between the layers and on top. I use Kashmiri Red Chilly powder which has less heat and nice rich red color.

Fish: 1/2 kg (use seer fish, butter (moda) fish, promfret etc).
Rice: 1/2 kg.
Onions: 2, sliced.
Tomatoes: 3, chopped.
Cinnamon: 1 stick.
Cloves: 5 or 6.
Star anise: 1.
Mace: 1/2.
Cardomon: 5 or 6.
Red Chilly powder: 1/2 tsp.
Coriander powder: 1/2 tsp.
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp.
Oil to make the korma and for frying the fish or you can use ghee to make the korma.
Salt as needed.

For Marination:
Chilly powder: 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder: A fat pinch.
Pepper powder: 1/2 tsp.
Salt: 1/2 tsp.

To Grind
Coriander leaves: A handful.
Mint leaves: 2 sprigs.
Ginger: 1 inch.
Garlic: 1 pod.
Green chilies: 3 or 4 (according to your tolerance level).

For Cashew Paste:
Chopped cashew nuts: 2 tbsp.
Scraped coconut: 2 tbsp.
khus khus: 1/2 tsp.
Kismis or dried grapes: 2 tbsp.
Soak all except coconut in water and grind to a coarse paste.

To garnish: (optional)
In ghee fry 3 tbsp of cashew-nuts and raisins and keep aside.
Fry in the same oil one sliced onion and keep aside.

To Cook Rice.
Take a pot and fill 3/4 water, add spices; 3 cardamon, 1 bay leaf, 1 stick cinnamon, 6 cloves, 1 star anise, half mace. While it is boiling, wash and clean the rice and put it on a sieve to drain. When the water is boiling add the rice and salt. When the rice is 3/4 cooked drain the water. Mix 1 tbsp of ghee (or more if you prefer)  and juice of 1 lime and keep aside.
You can also spread the rice on a thali or flat plate and sprinkle ghee and lemon juice, but I find it easier to mix in the pot itself....careful while mixing, you should not break the rice.

Marinate the fish with 1 tsp red chilly powder, a fat pinch turmeric, 1/2 tsp pepper powder. Keep aside for 10 min.

Heat oil in a pan and lightly fry the fish. This is just to lock the juices of the fish, so no need to fry for long.

Keep aside the lightly fried fish.

In another pan heat 2 tbsp oil and put in all the spices.....I love the aromatic flavor!

Add the sliced onion. Add salt  Allow it to lightly brown on low flame.

Meanwhile grind the coriander leaves, mint leaves, green chilies, ginger and garlic to a coarse.

The onion is just beginning to brown.

Add the coriander paste to it.

Add 1/2 tsp red chilly powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder. Mix well.

Add in the chopped tomatoes.

And a teeny bit of water to incorporate the tomatoes and saute till oil comes out.

Add the cashew coconut paste. Mix well and simmer for a min or two.

Add fried fish, but be careful so that the fish does not get broken....the korma is ready.

Grease the matka pot with a little bit of ghee or oil.

Put in a ladle full of the korma. Sprinkle coriander leaves. Drizzle a bit of ghee, sprinkle fried onion, nuts etc (optional, I did not use here).

Add another ladle-full of cooked rice....again sprinkle coriander leaves, ghee, dried fruits (if you are using).

Again put the fish korma on top.

Finally the rice should come on top. Garnish with a drizzle of ghee, fried dried fruits and onions or simply sprinkle coriander leaves. I covered the matka with aluminum foil, you can also make a dough with flour and cover with it....

Put it in a preheated oven for 20 min.

Remove the foil and enjoy the aromatic flavors.

Serve with raita and papad......

# I used both matka pot and steel incase you do not have access to matka, you can opt for steel but minus the earthy flavor.


  1. i love the flavor of matkas in biryanis too!!! also use it for making matka daal..u have explained it so well Nisa :)
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  2. Any dish in matkas gives a nice earthy fragrance...Superb looking biryani...

  3. Biriyani in chatti looks delicious.

  4. Delicious biriyani..glad to follow u..
    do visit and join my space in your free time...
    Shabbu's Tasty Kitchen

  5. Nisa, this is indeed a detailed and descriptive recipe for Biriyani. Nice work.

  6. edo going to try this have to get one mankalam first & as usual ur step by step description very helpful..

  7. I am a ghas phus so I perhaps cannot make an informed comment on the dish - but... I love the presentation and it sure looks delectable :)

  8. looks absolutely delicious...waiting to have one of this

  9. I wish you can indicate the servings the receipes will yeld

    1. Hey Seesan, Each Matka will serve 2. Hope this helps. Happy cooking.

  10. Hope you are having a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing your awesome recipe with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  11. Just a clarification needed ... at what temperature should the oven be preheated.... and should the biriyani in the matka be baked in the preheated oven, for 20 mins, if so at what temperature or is it that we need to lust place it in a preheated warm oven for 20 mins ... Swapna Nair

    1. I preheat oven at 180 degree C for 10 mins usually...hope this helps


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