Shrimp Biryani with OMG Sambal

April 26 2023 – Holly Ong

Shrimp Biryani; Cast Iron Cooking; OMG! Sambal

Shrimp Biryani; Cast Iron Cooking; OMG! Sambal

Home made Biryani is the best and while the old school style requires making a dough to seal in the steam for the cooking pot,  I feel I’ve gotten similar results with a cast iron pot. A good friend taught me how to make Shrimp Biryani. I've tried my best to break it down to blocks of activity. Think of it as cooking three separate things and then layering them to finish the dish.

Another cooking tip I got was that not all basmati rice is the same and to tell the market uncle I’m making Biryani so that he would give me the right rice. Here in Portland, look for a halal market or Indian grocery store, they would usually stock a few types of basmati that you can choose from. 


2 cups basmati rice 

1 bay leaf 

2 cinnamon stick

6-8 green cardamon (whole)

6-8 black peppercorn (whole)

5 cloves (whole)

2 cups medium size shrimp (about 1.5 lb is ok)

2 tbsp fresh ginger, super fine mince

1 tbsp fresh garlic, super fine mince

1.5 tbsp coriander (ground)

1 tbsp tumeric (ground)

1 tsp nutmeg (ground)

1 tsp chili powder (ground)

1 cup yogurt (full fat)

2 tbsp OMG! Sambal

1 tbsp cumin seeds 

2 star anise

1 red onion, sliced thinly

1 large tomato cut to chunks 

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp ghee

3-5 threads saffron (optional), pre-soaked in water (do not throw away the soaking water)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, lightly packed

1/4 cup fresh mint, lightly packed 

1/2 lemon cut into wedges

Salt to taste

Vegetable cooking oil



Part 1 - Marinate shrimp + Pre-cook rice 

Marinate shrimp in the minced ginger garlic, tumeric, nutmeg, chili powder, yogurt and pinch of salt for a minimum of 30 min or overnight.

Fill a large stock pot with water and add bay leaf, cardomom and 1/2 tbsp of salt and bring to a boil.  Wash basmati rice until the  water is almost clear (usually about 3-4 times). Once the water boils, add the rice in and cook for about 5 min. Take a few grains out and test it.  You want the rice to still be hard but not mushy. Drain the rice and set aside. 

Part 2 - Make the Shrimp Curry Gravy

Heat 6 tbsp of oil and the onion in a pan on medium heat.  Cook onions until they are brown and crispy.  Remove onions from pan and set aside. Leave the oil in the pan and stir fry cumin seeds and star anise over low heat.  Once you smell the spices, add OMG! Sambal. Stir fry that until you can smell the sambal.  Stir in the coconut milk.  Once the mixture is bubbling, add the marinated shrimp and cook until the shrimp turns pink. Set aside in the same pan. It is ok not to fully cook the shrimp it will continue to cook in the heat of the pan and it will get cooked again with the rice.

Part 3 - Assembling the Biryani

Lightly oil the bottom of the cast iron pot and then you can start your layer of 1/3 prawn curry mix, 1/3 of the rice, 1/3 of the brown & crispy onions, 1/3 of the mixed herbs (mint + cilantro, keep a little for garnishing). End with rice, onions and mixed herbs on top.  Finally sprinkle the saffron water on top and add a dollop of ghee before placing the whole pot and the lid over low heat.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  This part is important: resist lifting the cover before the time is up. Once the 20 minutes is up, LEAVE the lid on and let it rest of about 15 minutes.  

Garnish with the remainder of the herbs and serve with a cucumber yogurt raita and a wedge of lemon. 

Cucumber Raita

1 cucumber (finely grated)

1/2 cup of yogurt (plain full fat is best)

juice from 1/4 lemon

salt to taste

Mix this all together and serve with Briyani. 

Tagged: OMG! Sambal