Heirloom Recipes

This Sprightly, Whole-Meal Biryani Changed How We Make Rice

May 16, 2017

Every so often, we scour the site for recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature. This one from amreen is one of the most popular recipes on the site—it's so good, Amanda and Merrill riffed on it in their book.

As a kid, I loved seafood and hated Indian food. Over the years, somehow, that got switched up to loving Indian food and becoming vegetarian. Some years ago, I decided to make the move to pescatarianism, which has opened a whole new culinary world for me. For my 30th birthday, my dad made this amazing Shrimp Biryani dish for me marrying my two favorite things, seafood and Indian food. Send thanks to him for the flavors you are about to indulge in.

I recommend serving the biryani with kachumber, an Indian pico de gallo made with cucumber, onion, tomato, cilantro, chilis, and vinegar. It goes well with any Indian rice dish.

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When Amanda and Merrill, Food52's co-founders, first tried the Shrimp Biryani back in 2009, they wrote:

"This biryani has the distinction of being both delicate and full of flavor. A bowl of this fragrant rice and shrimp would be equally suited to lunch or dinner, either enjoyed alone in private bliss or served for a dinner party. We love that the same mixture of garlic, ginger, cilantro, and chilies gets incorporated into both the rice and shrimp, the two parts of the dish mirroring each other aromatically. And amreen reminded us of the beauty and ease of baked rice!"

Merrill used the biryani as a starting point for a recipe in A New Way to Dinner—here's what she wrote about it in the book:

"In the early days of Food52, one of our community members, Amreen Karmali, posted a recipe for shrimp biryani. I’ve made her bright, aromatic dish many times. First, you whir up a vibrant paste of chiles, garlic, and herbs that serves as a base for an amped-up pilaf. The same paste does double duty as a marinade for the shrimp that rest on top of the rice. Try experimenting with the flavors—I change up the herbs and spices to suit the meal I'm making: Dill and mint would be a nice alternative, and you could add a few cardamom pods or coriander seeds in place of the bay leaf."

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I am one of the rare northern Cali girls who hearts LA. My family hails from India via Kenya and being a good little south asian i spent many of my young years in the kitchen. Surrounded by good food from birth (thanks mom!) i have always loved cooking, eating and learning about food. In recent years i have developed an interest in the history of food and its cultural connection particularly in how imperialism and colonization has had an influence on cuisines of the world. This blog is my way of exploring the amazing web of nourishment that sustains us.