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Nadiya Hussain’s Prawn Saffron Biryani

Switch the classic chicken for prawn with Nadiya Hussain's delicious biryani recipe, as seen on her BBC series, Nadiya's Family Favourites. Made using Indian five-spice, it is an easy one-pot dish with plenty of flavour.

From the book


I’d never made a biryani until my sister married her Punjabi husband. She learnt all sorts of tips and tricks, which she passed my way. As soon as I’d mastered the basics, I couldn’t resist venturing off into new and exciting combinations. This prawn saffron biryani is a lighter and zestier version of its meatier counterpart. I love the idea that an entire meal is made in one pot. It’s not all about the flavour; it’s also about the lack of washing-up! Indian five-spice is made up of cumin seeds, brown mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek and nigella seeds. If you can’t find it as a mix, you can buy the spices separately, mix them together in equal amounts and store in a jar.

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500g basmati rice
1.5 ltr cold water
a large pinch of saffron
1 small cinnamon stick
2 tsp salt
For the sauce:
80g unsalted butter
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 medium onions, chopped
2 tsp salt
½ a lemon
2 large red chillies, quartered
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp Indian five-spice (see intro)
a large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
350g raw king prawns, shelled
5 tbsp olive oil


Put the rice into a large saucepan with the water, saffron, cinnamon and salt. Place on a high heat and boil for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop the rice sticking to the base. Drain through a sieve and set aside.

To make the sauce, put the same saucepan back on the hob and turn the heat up to high. Add the butter, then, as soon as the butter is hot, add the garlic and let it brown for about 4–5 minutes. Add the onions and salt and cook until the onions are soft – this can take 15 minutes.

Squeeze in the juice of the half lemon, then cut the lemon rind into thin slices and add to the pan.

Add the chillies, turmeric and five-spice, and stir for 5 minutes to cook the spices. Take off the heat and add the parsley and prawns. Stir well, so the prawns are coated. The prawns don’t need cooking in the sauce – they will steam and cook in the biryani (otherwise they run the risk of becoming dry and rubbery).

Take a large pan, something you would be happy to serve up in, and pour the oil into the base. Swirl it around so some of the oil goes up the sides.

Pop in half the rice and spread it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Put all the prawn mixture on top of the rice.

Put the rest of the rice on top of the prawns. Put the lid on firmly and place on a high heat for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down completely.

Leave to cook for 20 minutes, then serve.


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From the book: Nadiya’s Family Favourites

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