My Mama’s Parsi Prawn Pulao

by Zarina
Parsi Prawn Pulao

My parents are Parsis, originally from Persia (now known as Iran).  Due to religious persecution, our ancestors fled from their motherland in four boats. One of these landed on the west coast of India, where we were accepted and given shelter by the locals. Parsi cuisine has evolved and separated from Persian cuisine to carve a distinct niche, but the Parsi cooking method is traditionally adapted from Indian ingredients and spices.  

My Mum grew up in Bombay and moved to Hong Kong after marriage.  I have many memories of my Mum in the kitchen making Parsi food, one of which is this incredible Prawn Pulao, a balance of spicy, sweet, and tangy masala mixed with prawns and served with yellow rice.  This recipe was my Grandmother and today has been passed through the generations. Parsi food traditionally at weddings is always served on ‘Patras or banana leaves, so I wanted to serve this delicious prawn pulao the fancy way with a Parsi gajar achaar (spicy carrot pickle) compliment it. 

Now, living far from home in London, whenever I recreate one of my Mum’s amazing recipes, the cooking smells and flavors take me back home!

Introducing my Mama’s Prawn Pulao which has all those quintessential Parsi flavours; spicy, salty, sweet, sour.  This dish is an absolute stunner and by far, my favourite pulao of all time.

Parsi Prawn Pulao

Parsi Prawn Pulao

Serves: 6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


  • Cooking oil
  • 2 Large Onions, sliced thin
  • 15 Dried Kashmiri red chillis
  • 8 Garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp Cumin, ground
  • 2 whole Peppercorns
  • 3 Cloves, whole
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 2 Cardamoms whole
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 0.5 tsp Turmeric, ground
  • 2 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 tsp Ground black pepper
  • 2 large Tomatoes, chopped
  • 50 fresh Coriander, chopped with stems
  • 2 Spring onions, finely chopped
  • 750ml Chicken stock
  • 1 tsp Vinegar
  • 0.5 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • .
  • 24 Large raw Prawns
  • 0.5 tsp Turmeric ground
  • .
  • 500g Basmati rice
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 2 Cardamoms, whole
  • 2 Cloves, whole
  • 3 Peppercorns, whole
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 0.5 tsp Turmeric


  1. Soak the basmati rice in boiling water for 1 hour before cooking
  2. Pre-heat oven to 200°C
  3. Deep fry the sliced onion in oil until dark golden and crispy, drain on kitchen paper and set aside
  4. Grind the chillis, garlic and cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle (or blender) to a fine paste
  5. In a large pan over medium heat with a little oil fry the paste for 5 mins
  6. Add in all the whole spices, turmeric, salt and pepper, then sauté for a further few mins
  7. Tip in the chopped tomato, spring onions and 3/4 of the coriander, as well as 3/4 of the fried onions, sauté for 10 mins until it becomes a paste like consistency
  8. Then pour in the stock and simmer for another 20 mins until bubbling
  9. Meanwhile, in another frying pan with a little oil, sauté the prawns on high heat with salt and turmeric, set aside once pink and cooked through, about 4-5 mins
  10. Add prawns with all the pan juices to the gravy, combine well and heat through
  11. To cook the rice; drain the rice in a colander, place back into the same pan it was soaking in, and top with fresh boiling water
  12. Add to the rice the whole spices and turmeric and boil until cooked, drain once more through a colander, return to the rice pan, cover and simmer on the lowest heat for 5 mins, set aside
  13. In an oven proof serving dish layer the pulao by adding a little gravy to the bottom of the dish, then half of the rice followed by half of the prawn masala
  14. Sprinkle half the remaining coriander and half the remaining fried onions.  Repeat this process of layering the last of the rice, prawn masala, coriander and fried onions
  15. Cover the dish with foil and cook in the oven for 20 mins
  16. Serve hot with Parsi achaar (pickle) and enjoy!
Did You Make This Recipe?
Would love to hear your feedback! If you make this recipe, please tag me on Instagram @zarskitchen.

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