Goa, the land of sun, sand, surf & fresh seafood! When Yuletide season arrives, one always thinks of Goa & the sheer merriment and revelry that engulfs you & overpowers your senses just as soon as you get there!
Colourful fairy lights & decorated trees in shops & quaint eateries, lively Goan music n’ live performances playing out of every street corner, large & small nativity scenes in every neighbourhood, churches calling for prayer, tons of tourists piling out of every little bed & breakfast place, every shop trying to make the most of tourist season selling trinkets and Goa souvenirs & of course delicious aromas of sea food & meat delicacies filling the air. One visit to Goa during the Christmas season is a must do on every bucket list, just to experience the sensational sights, sounds & aromas!
So that’s the reason behind wanting to feature Goan recipes this Christmas season, and one of the most fabulous One Pot meals that are super-duper easy & appetizing for all palates is the Goan Prawn Pulao, a medium to mildly spiced rice dish with pre marinated juicy, succulent prawns delicately simmered in coconut milk & perfectly flavoured with fragrant Indian spices & herbs to give you a near-heaven experience in the first bite!
Showcased here is a mild version with added coconut milk, that brings out the delicate flavour of the prawns. There is another version with a typical Goan tangy green masala that I will share here soon in another lip-smacking recipe.
My earliest memory of Goa is as a child, all of 4 or 5years, staying at the Taj Fort Aguada Beach Resort and visiting the famous O’ Coquiero restaurant for lunch, eating vegetable noodles while others feasted noisily on sea food delights such as crabs & clams, blissfully unaware of it! Thank God I was vegetarian! Then many years later, a more vivid memory of the same hotel at the age of 10, cause that was my first ever airplane experience & the sheer thrill of it!
I always enjoy researching the history of a place in relation to the external influences that have shaped its culinary journey. Goa has a rich history thanks to the Portuguese & Dutch influences that they were exposed to, borrowing heavily from them in terms of technique, yet retaining their own uniqueness through local produce such as malt vinegar, cashews, feni, kokam, palm jaggery, coconut & so on.
Recipe for Goan Prawn Pulao / Pilaf
Ingredients (Serves 4 persons)
- 1 ½ cups basmati rice
- 4 medium sized tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2 small onions, julienned (sliced long)
- 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
- 6-7 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1inch piece ginger, finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh coriander leaves/dhania, finely chopped
- 7-10 fresh mint leaves/pudina, finely chopped
- 500gms prawns, deshelled & deveined (net weight)
- ½ green capsicum, cut in 1inch cubes (optional)
- ¼ cup frozen peas(optional)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons ghee/clarified butter (optional)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2-3 cloves/laung
- 15 whole black peppercorns/kali mirch
- 2 bay leaves/tejpatta
- 1inch stick cinnamon/dalchini
- 3 green cardamoms/elaichi
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder/dhania powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder/jeera powder
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder (or as per your taste)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder/haldi
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon mixed spice powder/garam masala powder (recipe available on the blog)
- Salt (to taste)
- Wash the rice well until the water runs clean and soak for 10 minutes. Then strain in a colander to dry out some moisture.
- Wash the cleaned prawns well & rub a mixture of ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon chilli powder & 1 teaspoon lemon juice all over them, coating well. Cover & keep aside for 10 minutes.
- Heat ghee and oil in a heavy bottomed pan or pressure pan. Once hot, add the whole spices namely, bay leaves, peppercorns, cinnamon and green cardamom and let them crackle for a few seconds, darkening & letting off an aroma.
- Add the julienned onions and fry until translucent.
- Add the finely chopped ginger, garlic & green chillies and cook for 2-3 minutes on a medium flame until the raw smell disappears.
- Add the fresh coriander & mint leaves & stir them in.
- Now add the tomatoes, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander & cumin powders, saute for a few minutes till well blended. Cover the pot with a lid & cook for 3-5 minutes till the tomatoes are mushy and the oil starts separating.
- Lastly add the drained rice, lemon juice, garam masala powder and marinated prawns & mix gently so prawns do not break.
- Add the coconut milk & water.
- Close the lid and place the pot on top of a flat tava / gridle. (See picture)
- Cook on a high flame till the tava / gridle is hot. (a drop of water should sizzle on it)
- Lower the flame and cook until all the liquid is absorbed and rice is well cooked (about 5-7 minutes) not mushy.
- Fluff the pulao using a fork. Test a grain of rice between your fingers to check if fully cooked.
- If the grain is still crunchy, add a ¼ cup hot water, close lid and keep on the same gridle on low flame for another 5 minutes.
- Serve hot garnished with some coriander mint leaves.
- Tastes best served with some onion cucumber raita or pickle.
- Add cubed capsicum and peas in this pulao to give it an authentic Goan touch.
- Ensure that the tomatoes are well cooked & oil has separated before adding the rice as excess moisture will ruin the texture of this dish.
- Do not add more water than suggested else the rice will become overcooked & mushy.
- This recipe can also be made in a pressure cooker without a weight, placing a flat pan beneath it to disperse heat evenly and prevent burning. (As shown in picture below)
- Prawns are added right at the end of this recipe without much frying so that they do not turn chewy and rubbery due to overcooking.