Shrimp Biryani with Raita (Yogurt & Cucumbers)


Biryani is a traditional Indian dish that has been developed into numerous varieties spread across North & South India. It is such a sophisticated dish; my mom would usually reserve it for special occasions. Biryani is infused with so many different spices and flavors that the aroma of it is simply breathtaking.

Of all the Indian dishes I cook, Biryani is definitely one of my favorites. Every step of this recipe leaves me with such an incredible smell of the different spices used. When I first made biryani, I was extremely intimidated because I always considered it a very royal dish and it just looked so complex. In actuality, however, it’s very easy to make and the results are all worth it.

Biryani for me is never complete without pairing it with my Raita (yogurt with cucumbers). It brings out the flavors on a whole different level. The raita itself is so rich and flavorful, you can easily eat it on its own as well. You can essentially add any vegetable you’d like, but I always like to keep it simple so it doesn’t overpower the Biryani. Even though it looks elegant and elaborate, it’s very easy and takes only 5 minutes to make.

There are several variations of biryani, so there’s really no right or wrong way to make this. I end up experimenting with it each time I make it. I usually make biryani with chicken but decided to try it with shrimp this time. I will probably post the recipe for chicken biryani as well as lamb biryani sometime in the near future.

-I let the shrimp marinade for 48 hours before I cooked it, you can easily just marinade it overnight and it will taste just as flavorful.
-I use 10 jalapenos because we prefer spicy food, you can adjust the number of jalapenos depending on how spicy you want your Biryani to be.
-I cook the rice in a rice cooker because it’s just easier for me; you can cook rice as you normally would instead as well, just make sure to add in the onion masala mix (from step 6) to the rice when cooking. 

Shrimp Biryani

Ingredients for Biryani:

For the Marinade:

12 oz Large Shrimp (cooked, peeled, tail-off, & deveined)
1 Tbsp Garlic Paste
1 1/2 Tbsp Ginger Paste
1 cup Plain Yogurt
1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 Tbsp Vinegar
1 1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
2 Tbsp Biryani Paste
1 Tbsp Garam Masala
salt to taste
8-10 Jalapenos-finely chopped (number of jalapenos depends on how spicy you want it)

For the Rice:
2 cups White Rice (rinse before cooking)
3-3 1/2 cups Water
salt to taste
1 Onion, cut into thin slices
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tbsp Biryani Masala
1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
3-4 Black Cardamom pieces
1/2 Tbsp Cloves

Ingredients for the Raita (yogurt with cucumbers):
2 cups Plain Yogurt
1 Tomato, finely chopped
1/2 Cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 1/2 Tsp Chaat MasalaShrimp BiryaniInstructions for Biryani:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add in all the ingredients except for the shrimp, combine well to make a paste.
  2. Add in the shrimp and mix into the yogurt paste. Make sure you coat every piece of shrimp with the paste
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook:

  1. Heat a large pan with 1 tsp Olive oil on medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook completely (the shrimp will turn pink when it’s cooked; about 5-10 minutes).

  2. Since the shrimp cooks really fast, make sure you take the shrimp out of the pan once cooked and leave the remaining marinade on the pan to cook down.

  3. In a large pan, heat up 1 tsp of Olive oil and add in the sliced onions, black cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cumin seeds, and biryani masala. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until the onions start to brown.

  4. In a rice cooker, add in the ingredients from the pan (from the previous step), rice, a pinch of salt, and water. Give it a quick stir and cook as per instructions for white rice on your cooker. (For mine, it’s just a button I need to press).

  5. Preheat oven to 350º F. Once the rice is cooked, add it to a large baking dish with the cooked shrimp. Mix the rice and shrimp so that they are well combined.

  6. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, this just ensures all the flavors from the rice and shrimp get properly combined with each other.

  7. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.

For the Raita:

  1. In a bowl, whisk the yogurt until it becomes thin in consistency. Add in the chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions.

  2. Add the salt, pepper, chaat masala, and red chili powder. Mix well.

  3. Serve with Biryani and Enjoy 🙂

Shrimp Biryani

I’d love to know how yours turned out or if you made a variation of this dish. Leave a comment below 🙂 

-The Soulful Cook

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