This Moplah Shrimp Biryani comes together quickly and has two surprising elements. First, you use short grain rice to make it. Second, you present it in a banana leaf.

Where North Indian and Persian Biryanis use long grain and basmati rice, the locals on the North Malabar Coast of Kerala use a short grain rice called jeerakasala. This rice is native to the Wayanad area and though the grains are shorter it is still aromatic and flavourful.

Presenting the dish in a banana leaf adds a whole other dimension of taste of place. After all, Kerala is famous for its bananas and over 20 kinds grow here.

Abida Rasheed, a great Moplah cuisine ambassador, made this deeply satisfying dish for us. Do try it. And while you are at it, check out Abida’s other recipes like Moplah Mutton Ishtew, Moplah Marinated Fish, and Roasted Squid (Koonthal Varuthatu).

Moplah Shrimp Biryani – In Banana Leaf Recipe

4 servings


Equipment: banana leaves and woks

For the shrimp:
½ lb large prawns or shrimp, cleaned, deveined and heads removed
3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder (divided)
1¼ teaspoon turmeric (divided)
1 teaspoon rock salt
2 Tablespoons coconut oil (divided)
2 tomatoes, sliced
Water as needed

For the rice:
1 cup ghee
½ cup sliced shallots
2 green cardamom pods
2-inch piece of cinnamon bark
4 whole cloves
500 grams short-grain (jeerakasala if possible) rice, washed and drained
Boiling hot water
1 teaspoon salt


For the shrimp:

  1. Mix 3 Tablespoons of the chilli powder, 1 teaspoon of the turmeric, the rock salt and half the coconut oil and coat the shrimp with the mixture. Marinate for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the remaining coconut oil in a heavy bottomed wok or fire proof earthenware dish over medium high heat and add the tomatoes.
  3. Mix 1 teaspoon of the chilli powder and ¼ teaspoon of the turmeric with a little water to form a paste and then add that to the tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes are soft – about 5 to 10 minutes. Tip: Abida always adds ground spices to water and forms a paste before adding them to any curry because she says this prevents the possibility of burning the raw spices in the oil.
  4. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink and are done – about 5 minutes.
  5. Drizzle the remaining coconut oil to finish. Set the shrimp aside.

For the rice:

  1. Heat the ghee in a non-stick vessel and add the sliced shallots cooking until they turn translucent then add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.
  2. Stir in the washed rice, immediately, and fry it until it becomes a light white colour and little crispy. Add the salt and hot water in a 1 to 2 – rice to water ratio and cook on high heat until all the water is absorbed by rice.
  3. Cover the rice and keep aside for 10 minutes.
  4. Lay a banana leaf on the counter and scoop individual portions of rice in the center. Add a portion of the prawns on top. Close the packet by folding the banana leaf and turning it to hold the folds in place.
  5. Deliver the packets to each guest and let them unfold them and enjoy the aroma and taste of this very special Moplah biryani.



Thank you for trying this recipe.

We'd love to hear from you.