Recipe: Monkfish Biryani

DSC01898 - Monkfish Biryani

As mentioned last week, I had a lot of fun attending a recent Curry Club at pan Indian restaurant and lounge, Carom, in Soho. As I also wrote in last week’s post, I learned a great recipe for a tasty and moist chicken biryani. I managed to find the time to try the recipe and actually loved the taste of my own at-home attempt almost as much as Carom Executive Chef Balaji Balachander’s restaurant version.

What I didn’t tell you was that I also took a tip from a quick conversation I had with Balaji about a good substitute for chicken. Based on his recommendation, I made a monkfish biryani … and loved those results too. Kemey was pleased as well. So much so in fact that she said she’d be happy for me to make this dish again anytime. She usually likes my cooking (or is at least very polite about it), but this time she was way more impressed than usual.

My monkfish biryani recipe follows. If anybody wants to see Balaji’s original chicken recipe, just give a shout. I’ll be happy to post it.

Aside (obviously) from the choice of meat, the only other real difference between it and the original chicken recipe is that for mine I used coconut milk instead of clarified butter. Cooking time is only about 45 minutes. Minus the monkfish and the saffron, it’s pretty cheap too.

As you can see from the above pic, the yield is ample. The recipe makes enough to serve four to six people easily. From my attempt, I was able to make a small lunch for two and to give the sizeable majority away as a home made birthday gift to a friend. He seemed happy to receive it and texted an appreciative message to me the next day after eating it.

The dish works well on its own but would be nice with some freshly made raita. I think it could be especially yummy for breakfast with some scrabbled eggs too. Enjoy.



  • 500g monkfish fillets chopped into chunks
  • 500g Basmati rice
  • 500g white onions (sliced)
  • 250g tomatoes (chopped)
  • 8 to 10 small pieces of Indian green chilli paste
  • 15g garlic paste
  • 5g red chilli powder
  • 20g coriander powder
  • 5g turmeric powder
  • 120g coconut milk
  • 50ml vegetable oil
  • 100g Greek yoghurt (I used Chobani plain fat free Greek yoghurt)
  • 10g cinnamon, cardamom, cloves
  • 15g garam masala powder
  • ½ bunch coriander leaves
  • ¼ bunch mint leaves
  • 1g saffron
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste


  • Wash and soak the rice for 15 to 20 minutes;
  • Marinate the fish chunks with yoghurt, chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder and salt for 15 to 20 minutes;
  • Make the green chilli, garlic and ginger paste.


  • Heat the oil and about 80g of coconut milk together, add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom;
  • Once the spices “pop” they leave the flavour in the oil you can remove them;
  • Add sliced onions and fry until golden brown;
  • Add green chilli, garlic and ginger pasted and sauté well;
  • Add the marinated fish and sauté;
  • Add turmeric;
  • Add chopped tomatoes and salt;
  • Add half the chopped coriander and mint;
  • Meanwhile, drain the soaked rice and gently layer it with the cooking chicken mixture;
  • Add a cup of water (or more for your “gravy” preference);
  • Mix in the rest of the coconut milk along with the rest of the coriander, mint and half the saffron;
  • Simmer for ten minutes allowing the rice cook;
  • Serve hot with saffron and freshly ground black pepper sprinkled atop each serving.

About tikichris

Chris Osburn is the founder, administrator and editor of tikichris. In addition to blogging, he works as a freelance journalist, photographer, consultant and curator.
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