Masala Prawns with Spiced Crispy Couscous

Recipe: Masala Prawns with Spiced Crispy Couscous


Forget rice! Pan fried couscous with a crunchy base adds an interesting change and texture to the flavours of this Indian masala prawn dish. Couscous has the reputation for being a little boring or pointless, but this is due to not understanding how to use the grain to its full potential. Being very bland on its own, the advantage is it soaks up flavour extremely well so by using good stock, spices and adding other ingredients you can create wonderful rich moorish flavours.

Couscous is Morocco’s national dish and also a dietary staple in North Africa. It’s easy preparation of soaking grains for 10 minutes in boiling hot water is the plus side to using it, but what you might like to know is the original labour-intensive preparation of couscous involved semolina being sprinkled with water, then rolled by hand to form small pellets. These were then sprinkled with flour to keep separated, sieved to remove unwanted coatings, then dried in the sun and stored until ready for consumption. That’s a lot of work for one bag of these tiny grains!

For this Masala Prawns with Spiced Crispy Couscous recipe the grains are first infused with spices and tomatoes, then pressed down into the pan to gently cook and form a delicious crusty base. I think this is far tastier than using plain rice and it also leaves the stomach feeling lighter. It’s amazing how much flavour the couscous soaks up.

Fragrant spiced tomatoes and prawns. Remove prawns so they don’t over-cook while the couscous steams, then add back to the pan to warm at the end.

Mix couscous into masala tomato mixture. Then remove and wipe clean the pan before adding butter and couscous back again. This is to prevent base of couscous burning.

Beautifully crispy couscous filled with spices and served with masala prawns, yoghurt and coriander.


Masala Prawns with Spiced Crispy Couscous

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a starter


2 tbsp clarified butter
175g green prawns
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
Salt + pepper
Good squeeze lime juice
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
150g couscous
220ml hot boiling vegetable or chicken stock
Handful coriander, chopped
Yoghurt for Garnish



1. Place couscous in a bowl and pour over boiling stock. Cover for 10 minutes.

2. Over a medium heat melt 1 tbsp clarified butter in a pan and fry onion until soft. Add spices along with, chilli flakes, minced ginger and tamarind and fry gently for about 1 minute.

3. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute.

4. Add a splash of water to the pan, then a good squeeze of lime juice and chopped tomatoes. Cook down a couple of minutes.

5. Throw prawns into the pan, and cook briefly until just coloured and covered in masala sauce, but not cooked all the way through. Remove prawns from pan and set aside. 

6. Fluff couscous with a fork and add to frying pan along with 1/3 chopped coriander, a pinch of salt and pepper and mix together well until couscous is coated.

7. Remove couscous from the pan, wipe frying pan clean and add the remaining tbsp of butter. Once melted put couscous back in the pan and with the back of a spoon pat down tightly. Turn heat down to lowest it can go, cover with foil and cook for 10 minutes.

8. Remove foil and return prawns to the pan so they sit on top of couscous, cover with foil and steam 2 minutes.

9. To serve. With an egg flip, place large chunks of couscous crunchy side up on a plate, topped with prawns, dollops of yoghurt and sprinkled with coriander. 



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