Poultry & Meat/ Rice, Grains, Noodles & Pasta/ Seafood

Karwar Prawn Biryani

A special prawn and rice dish for Sundays, holidays and even dinner parties. Ever since I picked up Pratibha Karan’s Biryani, my husband and son have been waiting for a biryani to pop out of the pages onto their plate. Their patience has been wearing thin and after months of broken promises, I decided to roll up my sleeves and grant them their wish.

Out of all the mouth-watering biryani recipes in the book, I picked the relatively simpler Karwar Prawn Biryani. This one is less labour-intensive than many biryanis, but its rich spicy South Indian resonance will make you keep coming back for more. Not delicate or subtle like its Lucknowi or Awadhi counterparts, this South Indian biryani boasts a bold and voluptuous personality, much like the sexy sirens of South Indian films, defined by spices like pepper, red chillies, cinnamon etc. Biryanis must normally be cooked in large quantities and recipes are written for 8-10 people. This is to ensure that the meat and rice cook to the right consistency. The grains of rice must remain separate and the meat or seafood must be cooked through. So much so, that a mushy biryani is not considered a biryani! It takes a few attempts but no one complains of eating too much biryani…ever.

Karwar Prawn Biryani

Quiche 'n' Tell
A hot and spicy seafood biryani
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8


  • 1 kg medium sized prawns cleaned and de-veined
  • 1 cup yoghurt whisked
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 800 g long grain rice I used basmati
  • 3-4 medium sized onions finely sliced
  • 8 dry whole red chillies
  • 2 to matoes chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 200 g oil I used 100g
  • Salt

Spice Paste

  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 10 garlic cloves


  • Marinate the prawns in yoghurt, chilli powder and salt for 15 minutes.
  • Wash and soak the rice for 20 minutes, drain and set aside.
  • Grind the spice paste ingredients to a fine mixture using a little water (I always dry roast them first for about 2 minutes to bring out their flavours).
  • Heat oil in a wide and heavy pan, and fry the onions with the dry chillies until golden brown. Add the tomatoes and coriander powder and fry till the oil rises to the surface. Now put in the spice mixture and salt and fry for a further 4-5 minutes.
  • Tip in the rice and sauté for 2 minutes before pouring in hot water to reach 1 inch above the surface of the rice. Cook the rice for 5 minutes, add the marinated prawns and mix. Now cover and cook on a medium flame for a couple of minutes and then on a slow flame for 10-15 minutes till the rice and prawns are done. Serve with pappadums.


Adapted from Biryani by Pratibha Karan

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