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Biryani-Style Quinoa with Spiced Fish

Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Gluten Free
  • Pescatarian
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Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

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Why we love it:

We’re cooking quinoa here in the style of biryani, an Indian rice dish. Why not just use rice? Well, quinoa is a super healthy and delicious grain, full of protein, and it’s fantastic and picks up the complex flavor of the spices. It’s fun to play and this honestly might be my favorite recipe this year!


  • 12 cup Cilantro (freshly chopped, divided)
  • 12 cup Plain Greek Yogurt (plus more for serving, optional)
  • 1 Lime (zest and juice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Garam Masala
  • 12 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 14 teaspoon Paprika
  • 18 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt (divided)
  • 114 pounds Cod (filets, or other white flaky fish)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (divided)
  • 112 cups Quinoa
  • 213 cups Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Raisins
  • 1 cup Frozen Peas
  • Avocado (optional, for serving)

Cooking Instructions


    Finely chop the cilantro; set 2 Tablespoons aside.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt and zest and juice of the lime. Add the spices:
    1 Tablespoon garam masala, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon paprika, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, and ½ of the salt (so that’s ½ a teaspoon), and most of the cilantro.

    Slice your fish into 3 inch or so squares and place in the bowl with the marinade. Very gently toss to coat with the marinade; if comfortable just use clean hands. You can refrigerate this for up to 4 hours.


    Use a microplane or small holes on a box grater to finely grate the ginger and garlic cloves. Peel the onion and thinly slice into rings. Slice the bell pepper into strips.

    In a large pot with straight sides, add the oil, onions, bell pepper, grated ginger and garlic. Sauté until the onions turn golden brown and tender, about 6 - 7 minutes.

    Add the quinoa, water, raisins, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt on top of the sautéed onions. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a simmer, then stir it. Turn down to medium-low and cover.

    Simmer for about 16 minutes or until the quinoa has absorbed the water and is mostly tender. Unlike rice, it’s ok to peek and stir occasionally during this process; if it ever seems completely dry, you can add another ¼ cup at most of water.

    Turn off the heat, add the frozen peas, and let it sit for another 5 minutes which will help the quinoa fluff up.

  • 3. FISH

    Meanwhile, heat another Tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick pan and sear the fish for about 3 minutes on both sides or until just cooked through. When done remove from the pan to a plate and repeat with another batch if needed.

  • 4. FLUFF

    Open the lid and use a fork to fluff the quinoa.

  • 5. SERVING

    Serve quinoa mounded on a plate, topped with a few pieces of fish and garnished with reserved cilantro, lime wedge if desired, and/or another dollop of yogurt or sliced avocado.

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    see yogurt below, or use coconut milk or non-dairy yogurt; coconut yogurt is particularly good in this dish
    omit and add olive oil to make a spice paste
    white or brown rice
  • FISH:
    use shrimp or chicken, or search for our tofu version
  • COD:
    any white fish or even salmon works great here, snapper, cod, sole, halibut
    omit if disliked
    so much room to add in what you have or love, try butternut squash, mushrooms, eggplant, cauliflower, garbanzo beans, corn, tomatoes, green beans, portobellos, brussels sprouts

Kid Friendly Version

Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

How to Tweak This Recipe for Kids:

  • Depending on your kids’ preferences, there are a few things to try:
  • Marinate some fish with fewer or no spices, just yogurt
  • Perhaps keep the cilantro out as that is the “green stuff” they might see
  • This is a great dish to swap out for sautéed shrimp or chicken tenders instead of fish
  • Try steaming up some plain quinoa to go under the marinated fish - or omitting fish for their portion
  • Consider adding cauliflower florets, mushrooms or sweet potatoes to the pot before steaming to get more veggies in the mix that they like

For Toddlers

  • Everything here will end up fairly soft. Spices are great to start with toddlers. You can puree 1 cup of the finished quinoa, onion and pepper with ½ - 1 cup of broth to make a mashed consistency. Flake the fish into small pieces and triple check for bones
  • Serve with avocado

For Choosy Eaters

  • If you can sell the quinoa, steam it plain on the side. My kids love rice and they would accept a ½ rice / ½ quinoa mix until they learned to love quinoa - or just make the dish with rice
  • Add in or omit some veggies so there’s something relatable on the plate for them
  • Serve yogurt or cheese, avocado, fruit and perhaps a little naan bread
  • If fish isn’t going to happen, use half of the marinade on chicken tenders or just cook up some plain sautéed chicken or shrimp - depending on what they will like

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

  1. The fish can be marinated 4 hours ahead
  2. The marinade can be whisked together 2 days ahead
  3. The quinoa and veggie part of the dish can be made ahead, then reheated on the stove top in a sauté pan or microwaved – it tastes pretty great cold too
  4. This dish freezes surprisingly well except for the fish. Reheat in a casserole dish, covered at 350 until hot throughout
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