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Like country to country, and region to region, biryani recipes also differ from kitchen to kitchen even within the same region. For this Malabari-style biryani, we turned to our CX extraordinaire, Reeshna's, mother-in-law — her prawn biryani is pretty damn legendary — and built this regional take using her advice as well as our house Biryani Masala. The gravy gets an extra kick of brightness from tomatoes, green chillies, and lemon juice. Like other regional South Indian biryani, this one uses jeera samba rice, a super fragrant short grain rice. Here it's lightly toasted in ghee with whole spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and tejpatta, and then cooked with water, lemon juice, and ramba (also known as pandan) leaf. If you can't find fresh or frozen pandan, this biryani will still be delicious, but if you can source it, the aroma it adds is sheer magic!
Cooking for a larger crowd? This recipe can easily be doubled! When preparing this larger size, you are going to want to 1) Use a larger pot 2) Do two layers when you get to the assembly point: Remove half the shrimp masala, then top with half the rice, layer the remaining half of the shrimp masala, and top with the last half of the rice, finishing with the saffron water, fried onions and cashews, and chopped cilantro. 3) Increase the bake time to 25 minutes.