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Fish pulav(Iswan pulav)

I am not sure why this recipe was not on the blog yet. My brother and I absolutely love this fish pulav. My pachi (aayi’s sister) makes a delicious pulav and a fish gravy that goes with it. It was a regular whenever we visited her in Belgaum. A perfectly cooked rice is layered with cooked fish to make a delicious pulav (I think it can even be called biryani). I will post the gravy some other time.

After a very long time, we found some Spanish mackerel (which looks and tastes like our Indian King fish/Seer fish/Surmai/Iswan, I thought both of these are same, but not very sure) in Whole foods. They never used to carry this fish before, but from 2 weeks, they are carrying it. Well, I can’t say how happy I am to see one of our favorite fishes here. We used to get them from Chinese store before, but 80% of the time, it was spoiled. So after a while we stopped going to that store. Now, I am happy that Whole foods is carrying it, so far, I have found that all the fishes that we buy from here are very fresh and good. Though it is bit expensive, I am okay to spend some extra bucks for good food items.

Last week when I bought this Spanish meckeral, two things came to my mind. First was my brother’s masala fry and another was this pulav. It came out very well.

Fish preparation:
1/2 lb (0.22 kgs) fish fillets
A pinch turmeric
1 tea spn chilli powder
2-3 cloves
1″ cinnamon
1 tea spn ginger
1 tea spn garlic

Grind ginger-garlic, cloves, cinnamon and apply to fish pieces. Add about 2 cups water and salt. Cook till fish is done.
Take out the fish pieces (preserve the water, this is used for cooking rice as it has all spices in it).
Remove the skin and bones. Keep aside.

Rice preparation:
1 cup basmati rice
1 tea spn ginger(finaly chopped or paste)
1 tea spn garlic (finaly chopped or paste)
1/2 cup chopped onion

Heat oil and fry onion, ginger, garlic. When they turn brownish. Add rice and fry it for few minutes.
Now add the water which was used earlier to cook fish – it is important to use the same water as it has all the spice and flavors. Add salt and if needed add more water and cook it till done.
In a thick bottomed pan, Take 1/3rd of rice, add 1/2 the amount of fish. Then add another 1/3rd of rice, followed by remaining fish and then remaining rice. Close the lid and let it cook for few minutes on medium-low flame. (I keep the pan on a tava, which gives a thick base).
Serve hot.

Serves : 2-3
Preparation time : 45mins

PS: I added some chopped tomatoes after I fried onions. Also, included some coriander-cumin powder while frying onions. I also garnished with coriander leaves.

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{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Ramya Vijaykumar May 2, 2009, 3:24 pm

    wow fish pulav is so delectable and yummy… I would like grab the palatte and have some now…

  • Shreya May 2, 2009, 3:35 pm

    Hi, I love fish in any form, and this is definitely interesting and simple:-)

  • luckysanjana May 2, 2009, 9:29 pm

    hmm I was so happy to see this recipe here today………….two reasons I am a Mangalorean married to a Jain gujrathi………….lol……..fish is prohibited in my kitchen so on a day to day basis fish recipes are my access to virtual freedom from my veg kitchen……….I can actually imagine the aroma of this fish biryani,,,,,,,,actually reminded me of another dish I simply lust for that is Goan sausage pulao………………..lol…………If my husband knew what i was dreaming about hed probably faint………………

  • Sig May 2, 2009, 11:32 pm

    I gotta check out our Whole Foods seafood section to see if they have King fish, I also had the same experience with rotten fish from the Chinese market. Oh and the pulao looks fabulous!

  • shaikhmohammed May 3, 2009, 8:16 am

    fantastic photograhphi and lovely recipe. thanks keep it up.

  • Purnima May 3, 2009, 10:22 am

    Mouthwatering recipe! The stepwise pics truly makes me drool. Have tasted only prawns-pulao ..this must be tried at home! :) Thks 4 sharing!

  • Arch May 4, 2009, 12:16 pm

    Oh wow…there is this place in Bangalore called Fishland which makes this awesome fish biryani – think its a lot like the recipe u’ve given…thanks so much, must try it out…

  • Cynthia May 5, 2009, 6:13 pm

    I love the idea of this fish pulav. I must give it a try sometime.

  • Vathsala S. Basrur May 6, 2009, 6:06 pm

    Dear Shilpa,
    I visit your site every week; the fish Pulav looks very yummy. I live in Gaithersburg, Maryland.We have a Korean international market which has a huge seafood section including live fish, crab etc and they carry more than 30 varieties of fish from all over the world. I love mackerel. If you happen to come across Boston mackerel try it. It is very tasty compared to Spanish market. They also carry mak. from Canada and Norway which are even better than the Boston m.rel. They cut and clean the fish the way you want. They also have a fantastic fresh produce section. I don’t have to go to the Indian store to get Indian veggies.
    I also speak Konkani, but our konkani is a bit different-ours is Saraswat konkani. You must have heard about Shirali in North kanara district where out Muth is located. My elder sister lives in Gokarn. Thank you.

  • Neeta May 31, 2009, 10:13 pm

    Dear Shilpa,
    Tried this recipe.It came out well. Thanks.However small fish bones can’t be removed and they keep coming in mouth as you eat.The children found it rather difficult.Can shark(Mori) be used instead of kingfish as it has only one bone? Pl. let me know.Thanks

    Shilpa: I think shark will be too strong for this. But you can give it a try. If you use bigger pieces of fish, you can easily remove all the bones. Do give a try.

  • Manju June 20, 2009, 4:16 am


    I am a regular visitor to your blog but never left any comments. Thot would so now as your fish pulav looked so yummy and I tried it the other day and wow it turned out really well esp. when am new to non veg cooking the details of cooking was really good and appreciate the same. Though I increased quantity of masala as he likes it real spicy.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

    Rgds.. Manju

  • VinithaPrasanth May 30, 2012, 1:53 am

    Good preperation. Tasty.

  • Rads September 17, 2012, 3:23 am

    hey frnd..searching for a fish pulav recipe..all thru the web..i landed on ur site..n am glad ..thnx for sharing such a simple n yummy recipe..i hav a small blog too(whr i share my recipes and recipes from different blogs n website i search..pls do visit)..hoping to share ur fish pulav too on my blog(with link..don’t worry)..thnx!!

  • Rui Monte Da Silva March 9, 2013, 10:12 am

    Hello Shilpa, Greetings from Dubai. Excellent blog. Just tried your fish pulav with king fish. Turned out spot on just like my folks did back in Goa. Thank you. God Bless!

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