King Prawn Biryani Served on a table

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This king prawn biryani is the perfect weekend treat. It takes a little time to cook but the end result is so worth it! Plus it leaves your whole house smelling absolutely delicious! Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients – most of them are spices and there is actually only a small amount of prep or chopping involved.

What is biryani?

Biryani is a rice-based dish which hails from India. Its popularity spread throughout the Middle East and it’s eaten widely in most countries across the Arabian peninsula. A lot of Arabic countries also have a local traditional dish which holds stark similarities – such as Machboos from Saudi Arabia (or Kabsa as it’s often called). While they have a different flavour profile, the staples of rice and meat are consistent.

There are a lot of different variations on the humble biryani, using different flavours, meat and spices. This recipe combines a great mix of Indian spices with basmati rice and tender prawns.

How do you make it?

Firstly, prepare everything. Marinate the prawns in a spiced yoghurt mixture. Lightly (not fully) cook some basmati rice with some cardamon and bay leaves and fry some sliced onions until caramelised and brown.

Next, you can start to assemble the full dish. Lightly saute some onions until softened and then add the prawns. Cook for a few minutes before lowering the heat and topping with the crispy onions, rice and some saffron water. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Spoon straight from the dish onto plates.

Prawn Biryani on a table with raita

Can you reheat it?

Biryani can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days and then reheated. It won’t be as good as fresh though – and the prawns maybe become a little tougher. Reheat in the microwave until piping hot. Rice is actually one of the most dangerous foods to reheat – so you need to make sure it is steaming all the way through.

What are the ingredients?

This recipe is a beautiful blend of spices, juicy prawns and flavoursome rice and topped with rich saffron. The prawns are marinated first in a mixture of yoghurt combined with ginger, garlic, garam masala, cumin, curry powder, paprika and turmeric. The prawns are also cooked with some cinnamon for extra flavour. The rice is boiled together with cardamom and bay leaf and then everything is combined and cooked slowly over a low heat. Delicious!

How many calories does it have?

This recipe has around 750 calories. It’s probably more of an indulgent treat than an everyday meal, but if you serve it with raita made from low-fat natural yoghurt rather than heavy naan bread then it is a little more ‘healthy’. It is pretty heavy on the carbs with around 68g per portion.

Fun fact – in Saudi Arabia, where biryani is super popular, there was actually a call in the local press to urge people to stop eating so much biryani. However, I don’t want to put you off. Often rice is cooked in the middle east in butter or ghee – and often even with it drizzled over the top. This is a little healthier than that. Plus, everything in moderation as they say.

What can you serve it with?

Biryani is great served with some cooling mint and cucumber raita drizzled over. I also love a good dollop of mango chutney on the side. It’s commonly served with naan bread which is a good accompaniment – but be prepared for carb overload!


This dish is pretty versatile and you can make substitutions based on what you have in the cupboard. Some examples include:

Spices – use what you have on hand. Some other great additions include nutmeg, cloves, coriander, chilli powder or cayenne peppers. Swap them out as you like. Just be wary that some are much hotter than others, such as chilli powder and cayenne.

Chicken works well in this recipe. Simply brown the skin of some thigh or leg pieces in a hot pan for a few minutes, and then cook in the same way as outlined below. Breast meat can be used but the result will be a lot drier.

Are you a fan of Indian dishes? Check out this chicken and red lentil curry, or this healthy chicken korma.

Products that work great for this recipe:

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King Prawn Biryani Served on a table

King Prawn Biryani

  • Author: caroline
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x


This king prawn biryani is flavoursome, fragrant and delicious. Tender prawns with warming spices. Serve with some cooling yoghurt and mint raita spooned over the top!

The default recipe serves 1.



For the marinade

  • 3 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the rice

  • 65g (or 1/3 cup) basmati rice
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf

To cook the prawns

  • 150g peeled king prawns (around 3 prawns)
  • 1/4 onion, sliced (around 40 g)
  • small handful coriander, finely chopped

For the saffron water

  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 2 tsp water

For the crispy onions

  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced (around 80 g)
  • 60ml (or 1/4 cup) oil for frying

King Prawn Biryani Ingredients


1. First, prepare the marinade ingredients and add the prawns. In a separate small bowl, add the saffron to the water. Leave both while you prepare everything else – the longer the better to allow things to infuse.

Step 1 - Make the marinade, add the prawns

2. In a small pan add the oil for the crispy onions over medium-high heat. When hot add the onions and cook for around 5 minutes – until dark brown (but not black). The oil should be hot enough so that when you add the onions they hiss and splutter a little but the oil shouldn’t be smoking. See note 1

Step 3 - Fry the crispy onions

3. Soak the basmati rice for a few minutes and then drain well. Combine with the other rice ingredients and then add to a pan and cover with water so you have around 1cm of water above the rice. Place over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat and cover. Cook for 4 minutes and then remove from the heat and drain in a large sieve.

Step 2 - cook the rice

4. In a medium to large pan (depending on how many portions you are making) heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the uncooked onion and cook for around 3-4 minutes until softened.

Step 4 - saute the onions

5. Add the prawns to the pan with the marinade. Cook for 3 minutes.

Step 5 - Add the prawns Step 6 - Cook the prawns

6. Reduce the heat on the pan to low. Top the prawn mix with the fried onions and half the coriander. Spoon the rice over the top and drizzle over the saffron water. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. 

Step 7 - Add the onion and coriander Step 8 - Add the rice Step 9 - drizzle over the saffron water

7. Serve with naan bread, raijta and (my fave) mango chutney. Yum!


  1. For the crispy onions – you can buy these from some Asian supermarkets ready-made which are equally as good (and much easier!) 
  2. You can save the oil from frying the onions for cooking later – it adds a lovely subtle onion flavour to the food! 
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Hob
  • Cuisine: Indian


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 750
  • Fat: 44g
  • Carbohydrates: 68g
  • Protein: 19g

Keywords: asian, indian, biryani, rice, basmati, prawn, shrimp, dinner, main

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