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Prawn Briyani

prawn briyani 2

I simply love to cook and eat briyani.  Once I told my close buddy that I can eat it every day and she gave me a startled look! I guess she was worried about all the calories in a plate of briyani!

I have to agree with her if it is not made by me.  There’s every reason to make a   briyani which can be nutritious with lower calories and most importantly not compromising on the taste.

The spices that I have used give a beautiful and heavenly aroma to the dish and of course adding lots of nutritious properties.

Briyani itself is a one-pot dish and can be very easy if you follow my steps to do it.

Briyani was introduced to India by the Persians and in India alone there must be hundreds of versions of briyani!

Every part of India has its own version. And yet you have the middle-eastern, African, Egyptian and south east Asian versions as well.  I ate the Egyptian goat briyani when I was there about 15 years ago.  I was invited by the chef into their huge kitchen and I was surprised to see huge pots being used as it is eaten everyday by many of their men.  1 goat can get into 1 pot! So imagine that!  The ladies do the bread – and I remember that I had some practice to make their flat bread in their charcoal stone ovens.  More of this later – please look out in my future posts.

Even in homes, each will have their own version of briyani.

I must say I have eaten briyani in most Indian restaurants in Singapore, and when I go overseas, always ordering briyani if it is in their menu.  Sadly yet to find the briyani that I want to eat again and again!

The best compliment came from a friend who lives in Melbourne (his family are all in Middle East and his wife is a fantastic cook).   He said the briyani that I cooked that day was the best he had eaten in all his life! I was very happy not because of the compliment but I could see his joy of happiness on his face. That was enough for me to cook for people who enjoy my food!

The Rice is the most important and is actually the hero ingredient.  Using Basmati rice gives a beautiful aroma, and its fluffy texture once it is cooked.  By the way in Sanskrit, Basmati means fragrance.

Today I have cooked Prawn Briyani .  It is slightly spicy – you can always increase or decrease the degree of spiciness.

My family members and I kept going for seconds and thirds as it was really flavourful and rather tasty.  So let’s start cooking or in my case continue eating!!

prawn briyani 1




600 gms large grey prawns

2 cups basmati rice

2  large onions

2 large tomatoes

3 green chillies

2 cm piece ginger

6 cloves garlic

2 cinnamon sticks

8 cloves

10 cardamom

2 pcs bay leaf

½ lemon – juice only

3 tbsp yoghurt

1 tbsp chilli powder

1 tbsp coriander powder

1 tbsp garam masala

1 cup mint leaves

1 cup coriander leaves

1 tbsp ghee or clarified butter

1 tbsp cooking oil – I used grapeseed oil

Salt to taste


prawn briyani meal 1



Clean prawns but leave the shells, heads and tails on.  Remove the veins at the back of the prawns. Rinse and keep aside.

Slice the onions finely.

Grind green chillies with ginger and garlic to form a paste.

Slice the tomatoes into quarters.

Soak Basmati rice for 30 minutes.


In a pot, add water to let it boil.  Add 4  cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 4 cardamoms, 1 bay leaf, and  ½ tsp salt. Once boilng, add the  soaked rice, which must be drained first.

Let it cook to almost al dente. Strain and keep aside.

In another pot, add the oil, once heated, add the remaining whole spices such as cinnamon stick, cardamoms, cloves and bay leaf.

Add in the sliced onions and when transparent add the green chilli- ginger- garlic paste, Stir well.

Add in tomatoes, mint leaves and coriander leaves, (keep some for garnishing later), stir till tomatoes are softened and mushy.

Add in all the spice powders, lemon juice, yoghurt, salt and ½ cup water. Stir well, cover and let it cook till the raw aroma of spices are gone, usually about 5 to 10 minutes. You may add more water at this stage to have a gravy consistency.

Finally add the prawns. Cook just for about 5 minutes ( All depends on the size of the prawns).  If they are very large give another 2 minutes or so.

Remove most of the gravy into a serving bowl but leaving the prawns in the pot.

Add the cooked rice onto the prawns, give a stir, top with more mint leaves and 1 tbsp of ghee. Cover and cook gently over a very very low flame for just 5 minutes or up to 10 minutes.  Kindly make sure prawns are not overcooked.

Enjoy with yoghurt or with your favourite leafy or cucumber salads and of course the reserved gravy.

prawn briyani 2




The method can be long, but if you try it once it becomes very easy.

You may add more green chillies or the chilli powder if you want the briyani to be spicier.

You can use a store bought garam masala or if you prefer – you may use my recipe.

Garam masala is spice mixture which has mostly sweet aromatic spices, toasted and ground together.  There are so many variations but for this recipe. I used 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 1 tsp cardamom,1 stick cinnamon, 6 cloves, and 1 star anise. Toast  and grind and keep in  an airtight jar.  You need to use a little at a time only,  It is fragrant and so very aromatic.  Just make ahead to save time.

Most important tip that I can give here is – you must keep a low flame once you add the spice powders – because it can burn quickly and ruin your whole dish.

Use  fresh large prawns as it will not overcook in the cooking process.  Overcooked prawns are not tasty.

Using more mint leaves and coriander leaves gives more flavour to the rice dish.

I served this prawn briyani today with Mustard Greens with Kidney Beans Stir Fry and Raw Mango Salad.

If you do not have ghee, use butter  for the final flavour.  When you remove the cover, the fragrance that wafts is so perfumed. So So lovely !

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