4 cups (45) small prawns or shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups Basmati rice
1/3 cup cooking oil
one medium onion
one small tomato
2 tbsp fresh ginger root
1 tsp green cardamom seeds
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cinnamon sticks
1 tsp fresh crushed red chilli or powdered chilli
1/4 tsp saffron strands
salt, to taste
Wash and soak the rice in enough water to cover it.
Thaw the prawns or shrimp if using frozen. Peel and devein them if using fresh.
Chop the onions, ginger and tomato roughly and blend in a blender to get a smooth puree.
Put the cardamom, fennel, bay leaf and cinnamon in a dry spice or coffee grinder and grind to get a fine powder.
Cook (Instant Pot Method)
Turn the instant pot to saute mode and add the cooking oil. Tip in the onion-ginger-tomato puree. Add the red chilli and dry masala (ground cardamom, fennel, bay leaf and cinnamon). Saute for 5 minutes, adding splashes of water to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Turn off the saute mode.
Add the prawns, rice, saffron, salt and 3 cups water. Mix everything with a spoon. Turn on the rice mode, make sure the vent is in sealing position, and lock the lid.
When the timer beeps (the time it takes to build the pressure + 10 minutes approx.), release the pressure immediately (QPR). Take the pulao out in a dish and serve warm with the garnish of your choice (any green leaves like mint, cilantro or parsley).
Cook (Stovetop Method)
Heat oil in a big saucepan and add the onion-ginger-tomato puree along with the dry masala and red chilli powder. Saute until the masala becomes thick and shiny. Add a few tablespoons of water to keep the masala from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Add the prawns, drained rice, saffron, salt and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
When the rice has absorbed most of the water, cover the pan with a lid and switch off the gas. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Then, take off the lid, garnish with your favorite greens and serve warm.
The spices used in this recipe are all available in any Indian grocery or online. Sometimes, they can be found in the international aisles of big supermarkets like Walmart as well.