One-pot Fish Biryani with aromatic long-grain basmati rice cooked over perfectly spiced fish marinated in warm spices, topped with caramelized onions and cilantro.
I am a huge fan of tasty one-pot meals. Starting with my popular Chicken Biryani, comforting Lentils and Vegetable Khichdi, hearty Chicken Enchilada Quinoa, and Coconut Curry Noodle Soup all easily made for weeknight meals using smart pressure cookers. All of this without compromising the taste and authentic flavors.
Instant Pot Biryani
Here are a few reason why I love making Fish Biryani in the Instant Pot:
- Makes a true one-pot meal as you can start with caramelizing onions on saute mode, then saute dill and finish up by layering fish and rice over in the same pot
- Perfectly cooked rice with each grain separate and fluffy
- Tender and moist fish without the fear of over or undercooking
- Keeps warm until you are ready to serve and I always serve it right out of the Instant Pot. No need to wash a separate serving dish
- The biggest advantage of all - no fishy smell in your kitchen
What is the best rice for making Biryani?
I recommend using extra long-grain white basmati rice for making Biryani dishes. I have been using Kohinoor extra long-grain basmati rice which when cooked makes fluffy long-grain rice with each grain being separate. Some other brands that I like are Royal, Tilda and Daawat - just make sure to buy the extra long-grain variety for making Biryani and Pulao. Most Indian grocery stores will carry these brands and usually is the best place to buy basmati rice.
What is the best Fish for Biryani?
- Bone-in fish steaks hold up really well in Biryani dishes. I like to use salmon, halibut, or kingfish steaks. Ask the fishmonger for 1 to 1.5 inch thick steaks that are about the same size.
- If you do not like bone-in fish, use thick fish fillet of salmon, halibut, or kingfish. Firm white fish will work well without overcooking or breaking apart.
- Frozen fish will also work well for this recipe. Follow the same cook times. The fish will mostly thaw during marination.
What flavors does Dill add?
Lemony sweet flavors of fresh dill complement seafood dishes and add rich flavors to this Biryani. Dill has many nutritional benefits - it is a good source of vitamin A, calcium, minerals and is packed with dietary fiber. Fresh dill is widely used in India and my favorite recipes using dill are Garlic Dill Lentils and Dill Dhokli. Although I highly recommend adding dill, you can also skip it if you do not have it.
How to make perfect Biryani every single time?
- Rinse the rice 2 times and then soak for 20 minutes. Drain the water after 20 minutes. This will remove some of the starch from the rice and will make the rice fluffy with longer grains after cooking.
- Pat dry the fish after washing. This will reduce excess liquids in the Biryani.
- Marinate fish for at least 20 minutes so the flavors get into the fish.
- To make the Biryani less spicy, simply reduce the red chili powder and garam masala by half.
- For a dairy-free version substitute ghee with cooking oil and skip the yogurt.
- Deglaze the Instant Pot insert after caramelizing the onions. You can use 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to remove all the browning. That will avoid the dreaded BURN during the pressure cooking cycle. Tip - Onions can be either be caramelized in a non-stick pan ahead of time or air fried.
- After the Biryani is done pressure cooking, gently fluff the top layer of the rice with a fork or silicone spatula. Take the inner pot out and allow it to cool on a hot plate before serving on plates.
- When serving it's best to use a silicone spatula to take most of the rice layer out first by gently reaching from the sides of the pot. Then carefully take out the bottom layer of the Biryani with the fish and serve over rice.
- Be gentle when handling the hot rice, if you carefully take it out, the grains will not break and you will see long-grain rice just like my Biryani pictures 🙂
Here is how to make fish biryani step by step:
- Make the marinade by mixing ginger, garlic, red chili powder, ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala, fenugreek leaves, salt, mint leaves, cilantro, lemon juice, and yogurt. Evenly coat both sides of the fish with the marinade. Keep in the refrigerator while preparing the rest of the ingredients (steps 1 - 2).
- Rinse and soak basmati rice for 20 minutes. Drain and reserve (steps 3 - 4).
- Set the Instant Pot to Saute mode and heat 2 tablespoons of ghee. Add thinly sliced onions and cook stirring frequently for 8 to 10 minutes or until the onions are caramelized. Take out half of the onion and keep aside for garnishing the Biryani (steps 5 - 6).
- Next, add 2 tablespoons of ghee to the Instant Pot with half of the caramelized onions already in the pot. Then, add dill and mix well deglazing the pot. Afterward, add marinated fish and jalapeño (if using). Next, add rice, 1.5 teaspoon salt, and water. Gently push all the rice under the liquids with a spatula (steps 7 - 10).
- Close the Instant Pot and turn the pressure valve to sealing. Set Instant Pot to Manual/Pressure Cook mode and adjust the time to 5 minutes. Follow with Quick release. Garnish with the remaining caramelized onions and cilantro.
Serve hot Biryani with Raita and lemon wedges.
Love the warm comforting flavors of this hearty meal? Try some of my other popular Biryani recipes:
- Chicken Biryani
- Vegetable & Paneer Biryani
- Shrimp Biryani
- Brown Rice Chicken Biryani
- Chickpea Biryani
- Cauliflower Rice Chicken Biryani
Instant Pot Fish Biryani
- 1 tablespoon ginger grated
- 1 tablespoon garlic pressed
- 1 tablespoon kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 to 2 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 10-12 mint leaves roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- 2 pounds bone-in halibut or Salmon cut into 1 inch steaks
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup ghee divided
- 1 cup chopped fresh dill leaves
- ½ jalapeno sliced into 4 wedges optional
- 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups water
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped for garnish
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1 red onion finely diced
- 2 tomatoes diced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cilantro chopped
- Make Marinade by mixing ginger, garlic, red chili powder, ground coriander, garam masala, turmeric, fenugreek leaves, salt, mint leaves, cilantro, lemon juice and yogurt. Add fish and coat evenly with the marinade. Keep in the refrigerator while preparing rest of the ingredients.
- Rinse and soak basmati rice for 20 mins. Drain and reserve.
- Set the Instant Pot to Saute mode and heat 2 tablespoons of ghee. Add thinly sliced onions and cook stirring frequently for 8 to 10 mins or until the onions are caramelized. Take out half of the onion and keep it aside for garnishing the biryani.
- Add 2 tablespoons of ghee to the Instant Pot with half of the caramelized onions already in the pot. Add dill and mix well deglazing the pot. Add marinated fish and jalapeño (if using). Add rice, 1.5 teaspoon salt and water. Gently push all the rice under the liquids with a spatula.
- Close the Instant Pot and turn pressure valve to sealing. Set Instant Pot to Manual/Pressure Cook mode and adjust the time to 5 mins. Follow with Quick release.
- Garnish with the remaining caramelized onions and cilantro. Serve with Raita (Onions and tomatoes mixed in yogurt), and lime wedges.
- To make the raita, whisk the yogurt in a medium bowl. Add onions, tomatoes, salt and mix well. Garnish with cilantro.
- If you have an air fryer you can use it for perfectly golden fried onions. This is a good alternative to caramelizing them in the Instant Pot.
- This recipe makes medium spicy Biryani. For extra spicy add more spicy green chili, red chili powder, and garam masala
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Is only 5 min required to cook both the rice and fish? Will rice be done in 5 min pressure cook?
Yes! It’s white basmati rice that is soaked for 20 Mins
Is 1 cup of dill a lot? Can I cut it down?
Can I used Trader Joe’s fried onions instead of frying them in the instant pot to avoid the burn.
1 cup full is not a lot, it cools down like spinach. But you can def cut it down to your taste. And yes you can def use Trader Joe’s fried onions
I made this tonight and it turned out great. Even though I made a trip to Trader Joe’s, I totally forgot to get the onions. So, I ended up sautéing the onions on the stovetop and then adding to the instant pot.
Thank you for your feedback! I am so glad you enjoyed it
So easy, and delicious !!! Perfect blend of spices with fluffy rice and the fish was cooked so well. I used cod fillets which were not as thick so I used the low pressure cook setting. My toddler loved it too ! And enough left over to freeze for another dinner sorted 🙂
caroline kurian says
I made this over the weekend. It came out great. I used salmon. I totally forgot to pick up the fried onions from Trader Joe's when I went there. I ended up sauteeing fresh onions on the stovetop. I have got the burn message from sauteeing onions in the instant pot before, so I don't mind the extra step. Thanks for this awesome recipe.
Archana how would tilapia fillets hold up for this recipe?
Hmm I think they should be ok. I have not tried with Tilapia
I did it with Tilapia. Amazing !!! Thanks
Thank you for the feedback!
I really like your recipes! I am doing a round up on rice recipes for buzzfeed.
I would like your permission to use your photographs and link to your posts.
Do let me know if that's okay
Hi Chhavi, sure! Do share the link with me when the round up is ready
Salimeh Khaleeli says
So I am making this right now, and I love the smell. I absolutely love how easy your recipes are. I generally am not a fan of cooking, but you have made it easy and yummy.
You are most welcome! Thank you for your lovely feedback!!
Amanda Reed says
Super simple and delicious recipe.
I used tilapia and it turned out very good. A firmer fish would have been even be better. It was the same with the jasmine rice I used. Very good, but long grain basmati would've been even better. I'm excited to add this to my recipe box!!
Can't wait to try even more of your recipes!
Sumitha Panicker says
Made it for lunch today - came out awesome - everyone loved it - Used exact measurements as recommended - will comes out perfect- Sumi.
Thank you for the feedback!
Hi Archana - this recipe looks amazing but I'm old school & don't have an Instant Pot! How long do you recommend if I want to do a traditional half stove/half oven cook?
I would add more water along with the rice and cook covered on stovetop until the rice is fully cooked on low heat for 30 minutes
Sristi Roy says
We could not get any bone in salmon steak and got fillet skin on instead. will that work?
yes that will work too!
Well, I don't have dill or mint! And def not running out to the store to get those either. What are my chances of getting a decent dish if I substitute with cilantro? I have whole bunch of dry herbs (fenugreek/parsley/oregano etc)
You can skip both and you will have a yummy biryani. Add more fresh cilantro if you like.
Great recipe. Very simple to do and husband said feels refreshing- I think it’s the dill.
I’ve reduced chili to 1 tsp and no jalapeño as kids can’t do spicy yet.
Really easy in the instant pot and it rice cane out nice and fluffy.
Do I have to set it to low pressure or high for this recipe?
High pressure if you are using thick steaks as called in the recipe. If you are using thin or boneless fish you can also cook on low pressure
Thx for this recipe. If we want to use brown sona masoori rice for this, how much water and how long to pressure cook ? Usually brown rice takes longer. Will that overcook the fish ?
I would not recommend brown rice for this recipe as it will over cook fish.
I have made this twice and the recipe and instructions are perfect. If I could only suggest using a Biryani spice mix instead of Garam masala. The latter is a bit harsh while the former contains classic ingredients missing in the recipe: cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom, whic give a nice flavor to biryani.
Mu Garam masala recipe has cinnamon and cardamom in it. And you can sauté bay leaves along with the fish. I am glad you enjoyed the recipe and also agree that Biryani masala will work great!
Fast, easy & yummy. A winner.
Simple recipe. Just that was hard to get dill herb.
And I tried on stove top, so the base got burnt but it was still yummy.
Thank you for such simple recipe.
This was such a lovely recipe Archana.
I made some tweaks to it like adding potatoes and sauteeing some tomatoes because I can’t think of biryani without potatoes and it turned out delicious. Thank you for this treasure. It is exactly what I have been looking for in a long time. Just one question the chopped dill is just supposed to layer the base of the pot for the fish to lie on? Or are you tossing it about for a bit before putting on the fish?
Yes I do toss it a bit.
Do I follow the same timings if I use Sona masoori rice instead?
Sarah khan says
Great recipe. Have made this a few times. If I omit the rice and just want to cook up the fish with potatoes in the spices do I need to adjust the marinade? Will the flavors be too overpowering because there isn't any rice?
You can reduce some of the spices. Also you wont need as much water for potatoes.