Prawn Biryani

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  • Have a go at making biryani, the classic Indian party dish, at home


    For the prawn masala
    2 tsp each cumin and coriander seeds
    10 black peppercorns
    2.5cm shard cinnamon
    4 cloves
    2 dried red chillies
    4 green cardamom pods
    5 tbsp vegetable oil
    1 medium-large onion, chopped
    6 large garlic cloves, peeled and grated with a fine microplane grater
    10g ginger, peeled and grated with a fine microplane grater
    3 medium-large tomatoes, quartered and puréed
    ½ tsp turmeric
    Salt, to taste
    60g creamed coconut
    500g medium-sized raw prawns, peeled and deveined
    ½ tsp tamarind paste
    2 tbsp warm milk, with a generous pinch of saffron added and left to infuse
    1 small onion, sliced and deep fried until brown and crisp (optional)
    fresh coriander, to serve

    For the rice
    3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
    3 bay leaves
    12 black peppercorns
    7.5cm shard cinnamon
    4 cloves
    6 green and 3 black cardamom pods
    400g rice, washed well and drained
    750ml water


    1. Using a spice grinder or pestle and mortar, grind the spices to a powder.
    2. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick pan, add the onion and fry over a moderate to high heat, stirring often until browned.
    3. Add the grated garlic and ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes until you can smell that the garlic is properly cooked. Stir in the ground spices and add the puréed tomatoes, turmeric and salt. Mix well and cook over a high heat for around 15 minutes until the whole thing has reduced and the oil comes out at the sides of the masala. Add the coconut and a good splash of water and leave on a low flame, giving the pot an occasional stir and topping up with water, if necessary.
    4. Now make the rice. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick saucepan and add the whole spices. Cook for 20 seconds on a moderate heat. Add the rice and stir well to coat. Add the water and season to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes, then cover, turn the heat down and cook for 9-11 minutes or until the grains are just soft. Take off the heat and leave to steam.
    5. Add the prawns to the masala along with some water, if necessary; you want a medium-thick consistency. Once the prawns are done (around 2-3 minutes, depending on their size), turn off the heat and stir in the tamarind paste. Taste and adjust seasoning.
    6. Now bring it all together. Layer half the rice in a serving dish and top with an even layer of the prawn masala. Finish with the remaining rice. Drizzle with the hot saffron milk and top with fried onions, if using. Then, to give it that biryani look, use a large spoon to fold spoonfuls of the rice into the prawns, mix lightly, divide onto six plates and garnish with coriander.

    Taken from Anjum’s Ayurvedic Diet (£14.99, Quadrille).


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