Prawns Biriyani (Kerala Style Chemmeen Biriyani)


Kerala has been famous for its varieties of Biriyani, which again varies from North to South part. Prawns Biriyani recipe mentioned here is from the Southern part of Kerala and has got a special blend of masalas and leaves added to it, giving a spicy touch. Its called as chemmeen biriyani in Malayalam language.

Step 1 – For marinating prawns


• Cleaned prawns – 650 gms
• Red chilli powder – 2 tbsp
• Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
• Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
• Fennel powder – 1/2 tsp
• Salt – 1 tsp
• Ginger paste – 1/2 tsp
• Garlic paste – 1/2 tsp
• Juice of half lemon


Firstly, mix all the above ingredients and marinate for 15 minutes.

Step 2 – For Garnishing


• Ghee – 2 to 3 tbsp
• Cashew nuts – 3 tbsp
• Raisins – 3 tbsp
• Onion – 1 no, thin slices
• Coriander leaves – 3 tbsp (Chopped)
• Mint leaves – 3 tbsp (chopped)
• Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
• A pinch of saffron soaked in 2 tbsp of milk


First of all, in a pan, add ghee. When the ghee is hot, first fry the cashew nuts till golden colour. Transfer it from the pan and fry raisins till plumpy. Then move them also from the pan and fry onions till light brown. After that transfer it to a colander so that onion remains crisp, else it turns soggy.

Step 3 – For Prawns masala


• Ghee or vegetable oil – 2 tbsp
• Onion – 3 Nos, sliced
• Ginger and Garlic paste – 2 tsp each
• Crushed shallots – 3 tbsp
• Green chilli – about 15 nos, crushed
• Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
• Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
• Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
• Garam masala – 1 tbsp
• Black pepper powder – 1 tsp
• Fennel powder – 1 tsp
• Tomato – 2 nos, sliced
• Coriander leaves – 3 tbsp (Chopped)
• Mint leaves – 3 tbsp (chopped)
• Pandan (Rambha) leaves – 2 tbsp (Chopped)
• Salt – as needed


On the same pan used in step 3, half fry the marinated prawns. You can add some more oil if needed. Flip for frying them evenly. Transfer it to another container. To the same pan, add onion, a pinch of salt and ginger-garlic paste and saute till translucent. then add crushed shallots and saute till brown. After that add the crushed green chilli and stir for a minute. Add chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, black pepper powder, garam masala and fennel powder – saute till fragrant. Then add sliced tomato, chopped coriander, mint and panda leaves. Finally add salt as needed – considering that we already added some salt while frying. Cover and took till tomato turns mushy. Add the half-fried prawns and mix well. Cook till prawns are done well.

Step 4 – Preparing the Biriyani rice


• Ghee or vegetable oil – 2 tbsp
• Bay leaf – 1 big
• Cardamom – 4 nos
• Star anise – 1 big
• Mace – 1 no
• Cinnamon – 1″
• Cloves – 3 nos
• Sliced onion – 3 tbsp
• Basmati rice – 3 cups
• Boiling water – 5 cups
• Juice of 1 lime
• Pandan (Rambha) leaves – 2 tbsp
• Coriander leaves – 2 tbsp
• Mint leaves – 2 tbsp
• Salt – as needed


First take a pot big enough to prepare the biriyani. Then add oil or ghee and when the oil is hot, add all the whole spices mentioned above and stir for a while. After that add sliced onion and sauté for a minute. Now, add washed and drained rice – stir for a minute. Into it, add boiling water, salt as needed, mint leaves, coriander leaves, pandan leaves – mix well. When water starts boiling, reduce the flame to low, cover the pot and cook till no water is left in the pan. Rice will be almost done by then. Turn off the flame.

Step 5 – Preparing Dum Chemmeen biriyani (Prawns biriyani)

First remove the rice from the pot, leaving a thin layer of rice at the bottom. Add a layer of prepared prawns masala (step 3). Then cover it with another layer of rice. after that add a second layer of prawns masala along with fried cashew nuts, raisins, onion and chopped coriander and mint leaves. Finally add a layer of rice on top. Repeat the garnishing. Sprinkle saffron milk, some garam masala and ghee on top of the rice. Seal the lid using aluminum foil or wheat dough. Move the pot to a tawa, to avoid direct flame. Cook over low flame for about 15-20 minutes. After turning off the flame, leave it undisturbed for about 10 minutes. Open the aromatic prawns biriyani and serve hot with side dishes like Pappad, Pickles and Raita

Refer detailed step by step cooking video below

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