Crab Dum Biryani Recipe | Njandu Biryani Recipe - Kerala Style

Hi All, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.I had a very good weekend. If you love crab as well as biryani, you’d love this recipe.

Biryani are one of my favorite one pot meal...Yes, I know I have said this millions times here.:) Even my husband and kids are very fond of biryani, so most of our sunday lunch will goes for biryani. Crab biryani is one which in my to do list for ages...finally I tried and it turned well  more than to my expectation, surely different from other biryani's...Why? Star ingredient in this biryani is Kanthri Mulaku-Bird's eye chilies(small, fiery white variety of chili pepper), which gives biryani special  flavor and  I won’t deny that it would be spicy but trust me folks it's gonna be heavenly! I made it with normal green chillies because, I couldn't find bird's eye chilies(Kanthri Mulaku) anywhere here. If you have access to kanthri mulaku-bird's eye chillies use them instead for a more delicious flavor. And who do I have to thank? My friend & reader Mr.Arun, who shared this with me. I have already posted his chicken-kozhi thoran recipes. As I have mentioned before, he runs a resort in Wayanad, Kerala. So this crab biryani comes straight from his Mountain View Resort to you all. Give a try folks, you will definitely love this flavorful biryani. Enjoy!

Njandu-Crab Biryani Recipe | Crab Dum Biryani Recipe - Kerala Style
Preparation Time : 1 hour
Cooking Time : 1 to 11/2 hour
Serves : 6

Ingredients : 
For Crab Masala :
Soft Shell Blue Crab : 1 large size or Whole Dungeness Crab : 1 or large legs with claws. (cleaned and cut into pieces) 
Onion : 4 (medium, thinly sliced)
Bird's Eye Chillie/Kanthari Mulaku : 4-6 (or) Green chillies : 8 or to your tolerance level (refer notes)
Tomato : 1 (medium, finely chopped)
Ginger : 1' pieces 
Garlic : 4 cloves (big) 
Yogurt : 1/4 cup
Coconut Milk : 1/4 cup 
Turmeric powder : 1/4 tsp
Kashmiri Red chilli Powder : 1 tsp
Mint leaves : 1/4 cup (chopped)
Cilantro/Corainder leaves  : 1/2 cup (chopped)
Lime juice : 1 tsp
Ghee /Oil : 2 tbsp

For Rice :
Basmati rice : 2 cups
Water : 4 cups
Cloves : 4 nos
Cardamom pods : 3 nos
Cinnamon stick : 2 (1" pieces)
Bay leaves : 1 (optional)
Lemon juice : 1 tsp 
Salt to taste

For Garnishing :
Ghee : 3 tbsp
Onion : 1/2 cup (thinly sliced)
Cashew nuts : Handful
Raisins : Handful
Coriander leaves : Handful (finely chopped)
Mint leaves : Handful (finely chopped)
Pineapple Pieces : 2 tbsp (finely, chopped)
Rose essence : 1 tsp mixed in 1 tbsp water
Saffron : coupled of pinches, mixed in 3 tbsp warm milk

For Sealing :
Wheat flour / All purpose flour : 11/2 cups
Water required

How to Clean the Crab : 
1. Remove the top shell  by holding the base of the crab with one hand and pull the shell away from the body with the other hand and turn the crab over and pull off the bottom part of the shell (flap like thing; the triangular-shaped section) and lift it away.
2. Turn the crab again and gently scrape away the gills on either side with your thumb and also throw away the intestine, which runs down the center of the back.
3. Remove the yellow layers in the cavity and keep the orange ones which is crab butter or crab egg seen in female crabs . Back home at Kerala, its called Ponnu. Some people use that crab butter /crab egg/ponnu in the gravy which gives thickness to the gravy. So set them aside if you like.
4. Twist off the legs and rinse the crab below running water to remove any other unwanted dirt from crab  and break it in half.
5. Crack the legs with  back of knife, just two strikes, so flavor get into the meat and the meat comes out easily and or Click here to see how to clean the crab.

How to make Crab-Njandu Biryani :

Cooking Crab Masala :
1. Make a paste of garlic,ginger, 2 to 3 bird's eye chillie/kanthari mulaku (or) 4 green chillies and set aside.
2. Heat a Ghee/Oil in the frying pan and add thinly sliced onion, remaining 2 bird's eye chillie/kanthari mulaku (or) 4 green chillies and saute until it is translucent, 
3. Add the ginger,garlic,green chilli paste, little chopped mint leaves; saute until it give off their aroma and begin to get slightly darker.
4. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt to taste and combine well until the raw smell is gone.
5. Add yogurt and mix well; now add cleaned crab and coconut milk. Combine everything together, adjust the salt.If the masala turns dry then add little more of coconut milk.
6. Cover and cook on low-medium flame for 15-20 minutes or until the gravy becomes little thick and crab cooked through.
7. Optional - Add crab egg/ponnu (if your using it) and boil it for couple of minutes and remove the gravy from the heat.

Cooking  the Rice:
1. Soak the rice for 20 mins and drain keep it aside.
2. In a thick bottom vessel, add the ghee/oil to it.Add the whole spices; cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves to the pan and saute for a min.
3. Add the drained rice and saute for few minutes. Add the required  warm water to the rice
4. Add the little lemon juice and cook the rice at high; heat till the water starts boil and cover the lid.
5. Now reduce the heat to low and cook till for 8-10 mins;You have to par cook the rice- 3/4 cooked and rest will get cooked during dum. (Note : Do not over boil the rice.To check if the rice is done you can take a grain of rice out and press in between your thumb and forefinger. If the grain breaks into 3 parts, it means your rice is cooked just right.)
6. When 3/4th rice cooked; drain the excess water immediately and spread it out on a flat tray/plate, sprinkle the lime juice and set it aside.

For Garnish :
1. Heat ghee and fry the thinly sliced onion till golden color and crispy for about 15 minutes; sprinkle little sugar to caramelize, remove and drain on to the paper towel.
2. Now fry cashews and then raisins until they turn golden color, drain and remove on to the paper towel and keep it aside. (Note : Save the leftover ghee for layering the biryani)

Now it is time for Dum

Dum is the process of layering the crab and rice, then slow cooking it by sealing the vessel with a layer of dough, and is cooked on dum; steaming over coals. Since we do not have coals here is alternative ways to do it.

Cooking in Oven :
1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F/180 degree C.
2. Meanwhile make a dough out of the wheat flour/maida with little water, the same way you would do it for chapati and set it aside.
3. In a oven proof dish, grease your cooking dish with ghee and spread crab masala and with cooked rice.
4. Sprinkle fried cashews, raisins, fried onions, chopped pineapple pieces,chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves,sprinkle left over ghee and few drops of saffron milk and 1 tsp of the rose essence over the rice.
5. Close with tight fitting heat resistant lid; seal the edges of the lid with above prepared dough. (Note : There should not be even the slightest opening.) (or) if you don't prefer sealing it with dough, then close it with aluminium foil, crimp along the side and and bake it for 15-20 mins.
6. When it is done, remove and keep the dish covered until serving.

Cooking in Stove top :
1. Place flat cast iron skillet or tawa on the lowest burner of your stove. The flame should be at the lowest setting.
2. To the crab masala and layer the cooked rice;sprinkle fried cashews, raisins, fried onions, chopped pineapple pieces,chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves,sprinkle left over ghee and few drops of saffron milk and 1 tsp of the rose essence over the rice.
3. Close with tight fitting heat resistant lid; seal the edges of the lid with above prepared dough. (Note :  Do not let any steam escape) and place the biryani vessel on top of the iron skillet or tawa and cook on low heat for 15 mins and turn off the flame.
4. Let it rest unopened on tawa for another 15 mins and break open the seal; now dum is also done.

Serve hot with Raita, Pickle or Biryani Chammanthi and Pappadam on the side and Enjoy!

Notes :
  • Actual this biryani recipe calls for Kanthri Mulaku-Bird's Eye Chilies(small, fiery white variety of chili pepper), but I made it with normal green chillies because, I couldn't get that kind chillies anywhere here.If you have access to get that,then use them more traditional delicious taste.
  • Bird's eye chillie variety is twice as hot of normal green chillies, so use as per your tolerance level.
  • Always sprinkle corainder and mint leaves as final layer over the rice, which makes the biryani taste more flavorful.

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  1. Anonymous8:04 PM

    Looks so yummy and spicy...I'm drooling..

    1. Thanks Navya! Hope you get to try it sometime.


  2. I love biryanis :) Never had crab biryani thou... i know this is gona sound silly but im a bit scared to touch it... my hubby usually has to separate the white meat for me :P

    Awesome clicks and presentation!!

    1. Thanks Shamsheeda! Do try this when you find time,its really a good one for sure.


  3. Thank you for sharing this recipie Sangeetha. I have never thought of crab biriyani eventhough crab is a regular thing in my house. I should try this after the lent...looks yummy...i'm sure it will taste yummy..

    1. You're welcome Nima, Do revert to me with feedback if you try! I do hope you like it...


  4. This is really really yumm.. Cant stop drooling.

    1. Thanks Divya for stopping by and taking time to drop lovely comments:)



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