Anyhow Prawn and Pea Pulao

Mallika Basu - Anyhow Prawn and Pea Pulao

Something unusual happened to me recently. A new friendship turned ugly. Nasty accusations got made. Yours truly got to play chief antagonist in a real-life Lindsay Lohan drama. Normally, I'd take a whiff and move on. But my testosterone levels have sunk to record lows lately. I blame motherhood. So I cried copious tears, while cradling a bottle of vino and ranting down the phone to an unsuspecting close friend. A whole hour later I realised the poor man had slid off to watch TV. Not wishing to bother him with my theatrics, I plonked myself on the sofa pleasantly enquiring about the sword-wielding blonde gracing the silver screen. It's Kill Bill, he said. A movie about a woman who is betrayed by everyone she loves and trusts. Cue: more floods of tears followed by a prompt end to the day. Sometimes in life you need things that just work. Like unconditional love. Solid friendships. Trusted kitchen appliances. Failsafe recipes. The things that you care for dearly. That take anything you throw at them. Last forever. And can be relied upon come rain or shine. This recipe for Prawn and Pea Pulao is one that has survived through thick and thin with me. Quick dinner for sister. Check. Lunch for toddler playdate. Check. Centre piece for dinner party. Check check. I've left the peas out once, taken the tomatoes out another time and used yoghurt instead, mixed in some fresh coriander and each time the result is tremendous. The trick is to cook the rice separately while the prawn masala bubbles away and then mix the two together. This is cheating, of course (this isn't), but it speeds up the cooking time dramatically and the end result is almost foolproof in its fluffy perfection. To be eaten with true friends and plain yoghurt. Naturally.


Wash the rice and cook it in a large pan or rice cooker. In the meantime, slice the onion finely, mince finely or puree the ginger and garlic together and wash and clean the prawns. Unless they are ready prepared like the ones I use!

In a large pan, bring the oil/ghee to heat over a high flame. When it’s hot, add the whole spices and as they sizzle up the onions, ginger and garlic. Saute the whole lot for about five minutes until it starts going golden, then roughly chop the tomato and throw it in along with the turmeric and chilli powders.

Fry this lot for about five minutes, then simmer for another five. Next, stir in the prawns with the peas and cook until the prawns go pink and firm. Add salt now and check to make sure it’s well salty. Then simply stir in the cooked rice and serve.

You can add other vegetables like peas, potatoes, cauliflower just make sure they are cooked when you mix the rice in. Also, if using yoghurt use a full fat version and add it instead of the tomatoes.

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