How to make Emirati Fish Biryani from Dubai's Bayt Al Wakeel's kitchen

How to make Emirati Fish Biryani from Dubai's Bayt Al Wakeel's kitchen

UAE: Emirati fish biryani's magic comes from the blend of Arabic spices and loomi's tang

Step-by-step guide to making Emirati fish Biryani Video Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Guide to making Emirati Fish Biryani

Preparation time: 45 minutes 

Cook time: 60 minutes 

Serves: 5 to 6 


1kg basmati rice

1 kg king fish

50 gms carrot

50 gms green chilli

3 dried lemon

500 gms red onion

300 gms tomato

100 gms ginger

100 gms garlic

1/2 tbsp Arabic masala (typically consists of cumin seed, whole fennel seed, whole coriander seed, pepper corn, cinnamon sticks, dried red chillies, turmeric powder)

1/2 tbsp turmeric powder

1/2 tbsp fish masala

1/2 tbsp cumin powder

50 gm garam masala powder

1 tbsp salt or as per taste

200 gms corn oil or vegetable oil

100 gm ghee or clarified butter

For fish marinade

1 kg king fish

50 gms fish masala

10 gms turmeric powder

50 gms chilly powder

20 ml lemon juice

10 gm white pepper powder

10 gm salt or to taste


1. In a pre-heated cooking pot, add ghee, cumin powder and cut onions. Sauté until the onions start to turn golden

2. Add cut tomatoes and whole green chillies. Whole green chillies give a smoky, upfront flavour and not necessarily increase the hotness of the food.

3. Add Arabic spice, turmeric powder, cumin powder and garam masala to the sauce pan and mix them well. You may turn off the gas for now, till we deep fry the fish. 

To marinate the fish:

4. Mix fish masala, turmeric powder, chilly powder, lemon juice, white pepper powder and salt and make it into a paste.

5. Smear the paste on the king fish and let it sit in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.

Marinated king fish
Marinate king fish by smearing the spice paste and leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Deep fry the fish

6. Take the fish out from the refrigator and bring it down to room temperature.

7. In a frying pan, heat oil for deep frying the fish. One by one slowly slide the fish with a frying ladle into the hot oil.

Frying fish
Frying marinated king fish in hot oil Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

8. In 2 to 3 minutes gently flip the fish, to let the upper side fry. Since the oil is very hot, be careful while turning it over. Use the frying ladle and a par of tongs, if need be.

Fried fish
Flipping the fish to fry on both sides Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

9. Once the edges of the fish turn slightly brown and the texture starts looking slightly crisp, remove it and place it on a plate and keep aside.

Fried king fish
Place the fish on a plate and keep aside Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

10. Turn on the gas and give the ingredients in the pan a stir.  After 10 to 15 seconds add freshly pound ginger-garlic mix and fish masala to it. Combine well.

11. Mix the ingredients well and let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the ginger-garlic begins to release an aroma. Let it cool for a while before grinding into a fine paste.

To Cook the rice

12. Soak long-grained basmati rice for 30 minutes in water. Then, in a cooking-pot add water (should be double the quantity of rice) and bring it to a boil. Add a little oil. Adding oil in boiling water at this stage prevents rice grains from sticking together.

13. Let the rice cook for 15 to 20 mintues on low flame. Once the rice is 75 per cent cooked, it will look like how it is in the picture below. You should only let the rice cook 3/4th or 75 per cent because while layering it biryani and placing it under 'dum' (dum is a Persian word derived from 'Dumpukht' which means air-cooked or baked), will make it cook a further.

Biryani rice
Biryani rice Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

14. In a separate pre-heated pan, add ghee or clarified butter. Then add the onion- and tomato-based freshly blended paste and mix it well.

Add the masala or ground paste
Add the masala or ground paste Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

15. Now, add the fried fish in the sauce pan and smear it with the paste. Collect one of the fish and keep it aside. 

Emirati fish biryani
Add the fried fish to the paste and smear it with it Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

16. Layer the fish with the cooked biryani rice and drizzle a little ghee or clarified butter.

Layering biryani rice
Layer the rice on top of the fish Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News
Garnish Biryani layer
Garnish Biryani layer Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

17. Add the other fried fish on the rice and garnish it again the same way with fried onion, dried fruits, mint and coriander leaves.

18. Cover the rice with a lid and let it cook on 'dum' for 20 minutes.

Cover the biryani rice
Cover the biryani rice to let it 'dum' or air-cook Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News
Emirati Fish Biryani
Emirati Fish Biryani Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Serve hot with fresh cut onions and raita (yoghurt-based dip).

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