Bring out the best of prawns in pilaf


Colleague Tasneem brought me some delicious king prawns last week and after pondering the options of how to best use them, I moved from garlic-butter grilled prawns to prawn curry to settle on a prawn pilaf.

The word pilaf is used deliberately as this was not, strictly speaking, a paella, but it certainly brought out the flavour of the prawns to great effect and in the same way as a paella, uses saffron to give that distinctive flavour. Saffron is very expensive as it’s considered the Rolls Royce of spices. It is one of the highly prized spices known since antiquity for its colour, flavour and medicinal properties. The dried orange-yellow coloured “stigma” or threads of the flower of the Crocus sativus plant constitutes the saffron strands.

You’ll find it in markets and specialised food shops in southern Europe, and throughout the Middle East, and locally, you can find it in spice shops and more upmarket supermarkets. A little goes a long way, imparting a lovely golden colour to he food..

If you can’t get saffron, it’s not a train smash but it does give a wonderful flavour. Here’s how.


500g deveined prawns

2 cups long grain rice

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 red onion, diced

1 ½ cups peas

1 red pepper

1 tsp saffron

1 tsp turmeric

Salt and pepper

1 handful chopped parsley

Third of a glass of white wine


Olive oil

Chicken or fish stock


Put on your rice to boil in about a litre of chicken or fish stock.

Defrost the prawns by pouring cold water on them and check that all the veins are completely removed.

Flash fry the prawns and the garlic in a mix of olive oil and butter and season with salt and pepper.

When they turn pink, remove from the pan with the sauce and reserve.

In the same pan, pour in some olive oil and fry up the peppers and the onions.

When the rice is cooked and drained, add in to the pan and add in the peas. Finally fold in the prawns and the saffron, stirring gently. Serve with wedges of tomatoes and lemon.

And a nice ciabatta. Great with a good rosé.