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Seafood Coconut Pulao (Pilaf)

A coastal pulao fragrant with Basmati rice, coconut milk and whole spices and dotted with succulent nuggets of seafood.
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 4
Author: Quiche'n'Tell


  • 300 g Basmati rice
  • 200 g medium-sized prawns shelled and de-veined
  • 100 g small to medium-sized calamari cleaned and sliced into thick rings
  • 150 g any white fish de-boned and cut into 1.5” x 1.5” square chunks
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 300 ml coconut milk
  • 250 ml water
  • 3 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 6-7 garlic cloves sliced
  • 2 ’ piece of fresh ginger sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 15-20 curry leaves
  • 3 whole green chillies slit lengthwise, halfway
  • 3 nos 1” cinnamon sticks
  • 4-5 green cardamoms
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp chilli powder cayenne
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • A pinch of saffron
  • Salt
  • 20 shallots thinly sliced
  • Oil


  • Wash and soak the rice in a large pot for 20 minutes and then drain completely to remove all water.
  • Before you start the pulao, deep fry the shallots in a small pan of oil, drain and set aside. These can be stored in an airtight box for a few days.
  • Put a wide, heavy-based skillet or pan on medium heat, pour in the ghee and 3 teaspoons of the onion oil from the fried shallots.
  • When the oil is hot, throw in the whole spices and let them pop and fry for 10-15 seconds.
  • Add the sliced onions and fry gently till golden (not brown).
  • Toss in the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute more.
  • Now add the drained rice and continue to saute, stirring frequently to coat the rice with the ghee. Fry the rice for 5-7 mins on low heat till lightly toasted.
  • Season with the ground spices, saffron and salt and fry for 30 seconds more.
  • Put in the green chillies and curry leaves.
  • In a jug, combine the coconut milk and water and mix. Pour half of it into the pan and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Cover and let the rice cook on low heat checking once every now and then if more liquid is needed.
  • Cook for 15 minutes (the rice should be 70 per cent done by now).
  • Gently, without breaking the grains, mix in the seafood and the remaining liquid. Check for salt, correct, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Once all the coconut milk has been absorbed and the seafood almost done, turn off the heat, cover the pan and keep aside.
  • Before serving, lightly fluff up the pulao with a fork, and sprinkle with the fried shallots.


The amount of liquid is approximate. Depending on the variety of Basmati, you may need a little more or less.