Prawn pilau with tomato and coconut sauce

Prawn pilau
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I came across this recipe many years ago in a Good housekeeping cookbook.

It’s a delightful combination of prawns, rice and vegetables topped with a spicy tomato and coconut sauce. You can make a vegan/vegetarian version by simply omitting the prawns and using oil instead of butter.

It’s not difficult to make, looks impressive and, most important of all, it’s very tasty.


Serves 4


450 g large uncooked prawns, shelled
1½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
juice of ½ lemon
40 g butter
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
100 g French beans, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
2 small courgettes, sliced
340 g long grain rice, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and then drained
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon paprika pepper
2 x 400 g tins chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cm slice creamed coconut


Mix the cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon salt and lemon juice together and rub all over the prawns. Leave for 30 minutes.

Make the sauce by heating the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies and fry until the onion is golden.

Stir in the turmeric, coriander, cayenne and paprika. Cook for 2 minutes then add the tomatoes, sugar and salt. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the creamed coconut and stir until dissolved. Bring back to the boil and simmer for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Meanwhile melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the prawns for 2-3 minutes, turning frequently. Remove from the pan.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan and fry until the onions are golden. Add the cumin seeds and turmeric, stir to mix.

Add the beans, courgettes and carrots. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the rice to the pan, stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Add the remaining salt and pour over enough boiling water to cover the rice by about 1 cm. Bring back to the boil, cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the rice is almost cooked.

Return the prawns to the pan. Stir gently to mix with the rice and vegetables and continue cooking until the rice is cooked and the liquid absorbed.

Transfer to a warmed serving dish serve the sauce separately.