Non-Spicy Prawn Pilau (Prawn Pilau)

Prawn pilau originated from the Indian subcontinent and Iran. The recipe uses prawn stock and a mix of spices as well as seafood, meat or vegetables to create a rice dish. In essence, it is a very simple dish to prepare but which has a strong spiced fragrance to it. It is a common and staple food for many Iranians, Indians, Turks and Pakistanis among others within and around the subcontinent.


  • Prawn: 1kg, de-shelled
  • Water: 1 liter
  • Oil: 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp
  • Red onion: 1, diced
  • Tomato: 1, diced
  • Ginger: 5cm length, grated and juiced (discard ginger)
  • Garam masala: 1 tsp
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp + 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon stick: 1
  • Cardamom: 4
  • Clove: 6
  • Rice: 2 cups
  • Coriander: 1 stalk, chopped


  1. Boil prawn heads and shells in 1 liter of water. Strain and discard shells. Set stock aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok. Saute onion till soft.
  3. Stir in tomato. Cook 1min till soft.
  4. Stir in ginger juice and garam masala powder, followed by prawns and 1/2 tsp salt.
  5. Cook till prawns turn pink. Remove from wok and set aside.
  6. Heat 2 tbsp oil in wok. Add cinnamon stick, cardamoms and cloves. Saute for 1min.
  7. Stir in rice,  3 cups (750ml) of prawn stock and 1 tsp salt. Cook rice for 10min till fluffy.
  8. Return cooked prawn mixture to wok. Stir to combine evenly.
  9. Garnish with coriander to serve.


  • Prawn pilau is supposed to be curried and hence a bit spiced and hot with chilli powder added in it. This would have been done at step 3 of the method, together with the tomatoes. I’ve left the chilli powder out of this dish, which is why it is neither as red as it should look nor as spicy as it should taste. All for the sake of the little one!

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