Prawn Pulao

This vibrant pulao would be a meal in itself served with a bowl of plain yogurt and thin slices of cucumber.

Serves 4 to 6

1½ cups/300g Basmati rice
500g prawns, shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon red chilli powder
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
7-8 strands of saffron
¼ cup/65ml warm milk
20g ginger, peeled
8 cloves garlic, peeled
3 fresh green chilli peppers
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
4 tablespoons Ghee or vegetable oil
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
1-inch/2.5-cm piece of cinnamon stick
8-10 fresh curry leaves
8 cloves, slightly crushed
6 green cardamoms, slightly crushed
5 whole black pepper corns
3 dried red chilli peppers, cut into 2-3 pieces
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
½ cup/80g frozen green peas, thawed and rinsed


1. Wash the rice in several changes of water until the water runs clear, and then soak in water for 30 minutes. Drain well.

2. Rinse the prawns and drain well. Add the red chilli powder, 1 teaspoon salt and ground turmeric. Mix well and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature.

3. Soak the saffron strands in milk and set aside.

4. Use a food processor and make a smooth paste of ginger, garlic, green chilli peppers and cumin seeds with 2-3 tablespoons water.

5. Heat 2 tablespoons Ghee or oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add half of the sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the ground paste and half of the chopped tomatoes. Mix well. Cook, stirring frequently, until the oil separates.

6. Add the marinated prawns, mix and then spread them out in the pan. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

7. Heat the remaining Ghee or oil in another pan on medium-low heat. Add the remaining onions and stir until translucent. Add the cinnamon, curry leaves, cloves, cardamoms, peppercorns, red chillies, star anise and bay leaf. Stir until the spices become fragrant. Add the tomatoes and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add 2¾ cups/690ml water and the saffron soaked milk, and bring to a boil. Stir in the remaining salt (or to taste).

8. Add the rice and green peas and cook, covered, over low heat until all the water evaporates. Turn off the heat and let stand on the warm stove for 5 minutes.

9. Fold the prawn mixture gently into the rice and serve hot.



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