Ikan briani

Ikan briani

Layered spiced fish and rice

The Complete Asian Cookbook
Alan Benson

Fish savoury


Quantity Ingredient
750g firm white fish fillets or steaks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
oil, for frying
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
3 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 large ripe tomato, peeled and chopped
60ml thick coconut milk

Spiced rice

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons ghee
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 whole cardamom pods, bruised
4 whole cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
500g long-grain rice
1 litre hot stock or water
2 teaspoons salt


  1. Wipe the fish with damp paper towel. Cut each fish fillet into two or three pieces. Sprinkle lightly with the lemon juice and season with salt, pepper and 1½ teaspoons of the turmeric. Leave for 15 minutes.
  2. Pour the oil into a large frying pan to a depth of 1 cm. Cook the fish over medium heat until lightly browned on both sides. Remove to a plate.
  3. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the pan and cook the onion, garlic and ginger until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the coriander, cumin and remaining turmeric and stir for 1 minute further. Add the tomato, about ¾ teaspoon salt and 125 ml water, then cover and simmer until the tomato is cooked to a pulp. Uncover, add the coconut milk and simmer again, uncovered, until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Return the fish to the pan and spoon over the sauce, then continue to simmer for 3–4 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  4. To make the spiced rice, heat all but 1 teaspoon of the ghee in a frying pan over low heat. Add the onion and cook until golden. Add the whole spices and rice and stir-fry until the rice is well coated. Add the hot stock and salt, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave covered for 5 minutes. Uncover and lift out and discard the whole spices.
  5. Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Grease a 2 litre capacity baking dish with the remaining ghee. Put one-third of the rice in an even layer in the prepared baking dish then pour over half of the fish savoury. Add another one-third of the rice in an even layer, then add the remaining fish savoury, and finish with a final layer of rice. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Serve hot.


  • If liked, this dish can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated without baking, then heated in the oven before serving. Sprinkle the top with a little milk or water to prevent the rice grains drying out during baking, then cover with a lid or foil. Allow it to come to room temperature, then bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes.
The Complete Asian Cookbook
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