Every dish tells a story

Spicy Nutty Rice with Prawns In Coriander and Garlic

Photograph by Moira Beaton

I often make this dish on a Sunday evening when the weekend is winding down and I don’t want to spend more than about half an hour in the kitchen cooking.  It’s also easy to prepare because the ingredients are ones I usually have in the cupboard, apart from the prawns, but I usually have a bag of these in the freezer.

I like grains, especially rice, couscous and burghul(cracked wheat, also known as pourgouri in Greek). I like them even more when they have added ingredients such as nuts and dried fruit. I feel as if I am eating something that’s not only tasty but also healthy, so I can eat more of it!

There are 2 recipes in this post which you can eat together or separately – I’ve put them together and they complement each other beautifully. Both dishes are fast, easy and very tasty. There is also a yoghurt accompaniment that cools the chilli in the rice.

Spicy Rice With Nuts (serves 2 generously)


  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • half a medium sized onion, thinly sliced
  • zest of a medium sized lemon
  • 30gr cashew nuts
  • 20gr pine nuts
  • 15 gr sunflower seeds
  • 30gr brazil nuts (optional)
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2-1tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 cup white basmati rice, rinsed in cold water and drained
  • 1 cup hot water with 1/2tsp salt or 1 cup veg. stock
  • handful of chopped fresh coriander (if not using the prawn topping)


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the cumin seeds, stirring occasionally until they sizzle.
  2. Add the onions and lemon zest and fry for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft. Stir from time to time to make sure they don’t burn.
  3. Add the nuts and stir fry for 1 minute to toast them slightly.
  4. Add the tomatoes, chilli, rice and coriander, if using.
  5. Add the hot water and salt or stock, stir and bring to the boil.
  6. Put a well-fitting lid on the pan, turn the heat down low and leave it steam for exactly 15 minutes without lifting the lid.
  7. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, slip a piece of strong kitchen towel or a clean teatowel under the lid and leave it to rest while you make the prawns.

Prawns With Garlic and Coriander


  • 200gr raw, peeled prawns – if there is a blue line (vein) running from top to tail, take the tip of a sharp knife, gently cut into each prawn, remove the vein and discard.
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • handful coriander, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon


  1. Heat the oil in a shallow pan, add the prawns and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Turn them over and cook the other side for 1 minute.
  3. Add the garlic, coriander and lemon juice to the pan and cook for about another. minute, stirring until the prawns are well-coated in the mixture which, by this time, should be highly aromatic.
  4. You can taste one now – just to check if they need more lemon juice.
  5. Turn off the heat.

To serve:

First, the rice. Take the lid off the pan and quickly fork the rice to separate the grains then spoon into a shallow dish or on to a large serving plate. Place the prawns and their mixture on top of the rice. Serve on warm plates accompanied by a bowl of plain yoghurt to which you have added 1-2 spoons of olive oil, a crushed clove of garlic and a pinch of salt.