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Prawn, tamarind and herb stew

Main Spring
4 people

This stew hails from southern Iran where dishes often include seafood and spices due to the proximity to Pakistan and India and to the coast. If you can find fresh fenugreek leaves, then feel free to use them in place of the ground fenugreek; they are well worth searching for because they add a herby dimension to the more common seeds (seeds, however, can be used as a substitute as we do here). Cooking the herbs is also an important step here, the result being a robust, deep flavour. Serve with plain rice.

Follow the full recipe


700g peeled and deveined raw king prawns
1 tbsp olive oil
35g unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp chilli flakes
5g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
½ lemon
100g tamarind pulp
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped (180g)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 green chillies, 1 finely chopped and the other thinly sliced, seeds and all
6 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced (90g)
120g coriander leaves, finely chopped
120g parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp fenugreek seeds finely ground in a spice grinder
1½ tsp ground coriander
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8th tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
salt and black pepper


  1. Soak the tamarind in 200 millilitres of hot water and leave for 20 minutes. Use your hands to break apart the soaked tamarind in the water, removing as much pulp from the seeds as possible. Strain the liquid into a sieve, using your hands to press down on the pulp to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the seeds and remaining pulp; you should be left with about 160ml of tamarind liquid.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to a large sauté pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and finely chopped green chilli and cook for 1 minute more then turn the heat down to medium low. Stir in the spring onion, coriander and parsley and cook for 20 minutes on medium low, stirring often, until the herbs are a deep green, but not brown. Add the flour, spices, 1 teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper and cook for about 30 seconds before adding the tamarind liquid, sugar and 500 millilitres of water. Simmer for 10 minutes for the sauce to thicken and come together.
  3. While the stew is cooking, place a large frying pan on a high heat. In a bowl, toss the prawns with 1 tablespoon oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Once very hot, add a third of the prawns to the pan and fry for 1-1½ minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Transfer to a plate and continue in this way with the rest of the prawns. Let the pan cool slightly then return to a medium-high heat with the butter, garlic, turmeric and chilli. Cook for about a minute, until fragrant then add back the prawns and the coriander and toss to coat, about another 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and squeeze over the lemon half.
  4. Stir half the prawns through the stew and transfer to a large shallow bowl. Top with the remaining prawns and the sliced green chillies.