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Hyderabadi Shrimp (prawns) Biriyani...step by step

Today, I am sharing the famous Hyderabad shrimp/prawns biriyani. I love biriyani so much that I am always developing them to perfection.

Last Christmas we went to Hyderabad and I was lucky to get some real Hyderabadi recipes, this shrimp biriyani is from a friend who is also a great cook; he also shared the famous Hyderabadi chicken biriyani ; ofcourse that is another post.

Talking of Hyd biriyani; "shah jeera" is the special ingredient which gives out an authentic nawabi touch to Hyderabadi biriyani. "Shah jeera", is added in the water for cooking the rice along with the other spices. I have always believed and used jeera and saunf in biriyanis, but this awesome cook introduced me to this new spice and the flavors are just mind blowing.

Lets start cooking this awesome nawabi special......right from the land of nawabs, Hyderabad.

Notes: I am also showing how to make this as a dum biriyani.
Kashmiri red chilly has less heat, but if you are using ordinary chilly powder reduce by half.

Author: Nisa Homey
Serves: 4-6.
Prawns/Shrimp: 300 gms, deviened and cleaned.

For the gravy:
Onions: 2 medium, sliced.
Tomatoes: 2
Ginger: 1 inch piece.
Garlic: 1 pod.
Green chillies: 2.
Coriander leaves: 2 sprigs and more for garnishing.
Kashmiri Chilly powder: 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp.
Pepper powder: 1/2 tsp.
Curd: 2 tbsp.
Salt as needed.
Oil/ghee as needed.

Lime: Juice of half a lime.
Basmati Rice: 2 cups.

Whole spices:
Shah jeera: 3/4 tsp.
Cardamon: 6.
Cloves: 8
Cinnamon: 2-3 medium sticks.
Mace: 1/4.
Star anise: 1.
Peppercorns: 1/2 tsp.
Bay leaves: 2.

Kashmiri Chilly Powder: 1/2 tsp.
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp.
Pepper powder: 1/2 tsp.
Salt to taste.

Marinate the prawns with Kashmiri chilly powder, pepper, turmeric, and salt. Keep aside

Clean and wash 2 cups of basmati rice, and put it in a strainer. Keep aside. (picture from another post)

In a heavy bottomed pan or vessel (it should hold 2 cups of cooked rice). Heat 3 tbsp of ghee or refined oil or half and half. Add in the marinated prawns and lightly fry it on low flame, about 4 min. Sprinkle little salt over it.

When it is done, remove the prawns on to a plate.

In the same pan, the oil is now shrimp flavored, add in the spices:1 cinnamon, 4 cloves, 3 cardamon, a strand of mace, 1/4 tsp of shah jeera, 1 bay leaf. Sometimes you might need another tbsp of oil or so.

Add in the sliced onions, let it saute till lightly browned.

While the onions are browning, grind ginger, garlic, 2 green chilles, and coriander leaves coarsely. Add it to the lightly browned onion. Mix well on low flame till the raw flavor vanishes.

Add in 1 tsp Kashmiri chilly powder, 1/2 tsp pepper powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric.

Mix well.

Add in the 2 chopped tomatoes. Mix and let it fry for sometime on low flame till the moisture in the tomatoes comes out.

Then add 2 tbsp of yogurt/curd.

Mix well and let it simmer for a few min.

Add back in the fried prawns and let it simmer away for a few minutes, so that the masala incorporates into it. Then switch off the fire, while we prepare the rice.

In a big vessal or "kalam" bring water to boil. Add the spices ie 1/2 tsp shah jeera, 4 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cardamons, a small strand of mace, 1 bay leaf, and half star anise. Add salt. When the water comes to a boil add the strained rice. When the rice is 3/4 cooked, strain the rice and keep aside.

The rice is ready, squeeze lime into it and mix well and keep aside.

If you have switched off the fire, its time to switch it on,  put it on low flame and then spread the prawns masala on the pan. Then put the masala scented, flavorful rice on top of it .

You can drizzle a bit of ghee in between for added flavor. Fill up with the rest of the rice and sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves.

Cover the pan, you can seal the sides with dough or aluminium foil, since the rice is only 3/4 cooked, we are going to let the rice cooked in the pan along with the masala; which is called dum. Lastly mix saffron (if you have go ahead and use it other wise, turmeric is just fine) and a fat pinch turmeric powder in 2 tbsp of milk and sprinkle over the rice.

To cover the lid tightly, I just filled water in the vessel with which I cooked the rice and placed it on top of the lid. Let it simmer on low flame for 15 min.

Open after 15 min ....(I have not mentioned this in the ingredients list) sprinkle saffron on 2 tbsp milk and, allow it to dissolve and just sprinkle on top of the rice OR if you do not have saffron at the moment.....just use good quality homemade turmeric powder...about 1/4 tsp into 2-3 tbsp of warm milk...mix and sprinkle on top....this is what I did.

I have just done a two layer; if you plan to do with 4 cups of rice you can make it into 4 layer dum biriyani.

Serve hot.

Enjoy a Nawabi meal :)

Some more biriyani recipes:
Fish Biriyani.
Mushroom Biriyani.
Pressure Cooker Chicken Biriyani.


  1. Awesome briyani looks so delicious n flavorful.....

  2. Yum! I like all different kinds of biriyani. This looks mouthwatering, Nisa.

    1. Angie, thanks :) and I hope you will try this.

  3. Looks great Nisa, never tried any dum biryani with tomatoes. will try next time.thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks Swasthi! do try and enjoy this Nawabi cusine.

  4. nice flavorful biryani, don't stop visiting me.

    1. Thanks Kitchen Queen!!...I wont stop visiting u :)

  5. I like the recipe and love your presentation.

  6. Great recipe Nisa:))) So much flavor yum. I love rice dishes! Defiantly will give it a try:)

    1. Thank u Lea!! ....Try it and you will love it.

  7. wow your clicks make my mouth water :) so yummy and sure you all had a yummy treat today

    1. Thank u Priya!!....we all enjoyed the biriyani so much that I had to share it on my blog for you guys :)

  8. Already drooling over here by just looking at the shrimp biriyani.

  9. Mouthwatering here... All time favorite...

  10. Hello,

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  11. Wow u got lot of patience the end product looks worth the effort...will surely want to give a try..

  12. Photos kandaal thanne vaayil kappalodikkam

  13. Photos really good. Vaayil kappalodikkam

  14. Looks delicious....Going to try this for Easter....

  15. Wonderful biryani recipe :) Nisa :) Happy New year to you n your family :)

  16. Nisa, made this & it was simply superb.......

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed it Merry! Thanks for trying my recipe!

  17. Hello! I tried the prawns biryani and it turned out fantastic! I just made one addition. Before adding the whole spices to the water to cook the rice, I tossed it in a tbs of ghee for a few seconds and put the whole thing, ghee and all, into the water. I feel it enhanced the flavor a little. It reminded me of the nai chor my uncle used to make back in Calicut! Thank you for the detailed recipe. Will surely try more from your site.

    1. Hi Nitha, what a fantastic feedback and time I will keep this in mind ...thanks a ton for stopping by :)

  18. Hi Nisa, it is so yummy and mouthwatering. Will surely try it. Thanks aloooooot for sharing this recipe.

  19. I tried this biryani and it turned out super duper delicious. Thanks Nisa for this fantastic recipe.

  20. The receipie was very yummy i just tried it to do sooo thanks for sharing thanks a lot. Nisa

  21. Hi I tried this and OMG, it tastes awesome.... I fell in luv with the spiced rice while it was boiling... Can't wait to make it again....


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