Prawns braised in a tamarind–herb sauce

Prawns braised in a tamarind–herb sauce

Ghaliyeh maygoo

Mark Roper

‘Ghaliyeh’ is the Arab word for khoresht, or stew, and its usage in the Persian Gulf region of Iran reflects the influence of the Arabic language on Old Persian, after the arrival of Islam in the seventh century.

Both Arab and Indian influences are also strongly evident in the cooking here – in part because of the proximity to the Arab states over the water, and also because of the long history of trading with Arabia and the Indian subcontinent. The complex layers of spicing in dishes from this part of Iran set them apart from other Persian food, which tends to be herb based and fairly subtle.

This is my interpretation of a dish we enjoyed on Qeshm Island, using prawns from the Persian Gulf. Substitute a firm white fish, such as rockling, blue-eye, hapuka or sea bass, if you like, to make ghaliyeh mahi – fish stew, and if you really don’t have the energy to make the curry spice mix given here, substitute a good-quality purchased curry powder. This mix is more than you need for the recipe, but keeps well, and is a good all-purpose curry powder.


Quantity Ingredient
80ml olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
200g tomatoes, diced
300ml water
sea salt
1kg king prawns, peeled, (to yield 600 g)
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded coriander leaves
1/2 cup shredded flat-leaf parsley leaves

Curry spice mix

Quantity Ingredient
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the spice mix, lightly toast the fennel and fenugreek seeds in a dry frying pan over a low heat. Tip them into a mortar and grind as finely as you can. Sieve to remove the husks – you will end up with about half the original quantity. Combine with all the other spices. If not using straight away, store in an airtight jar.
  2. Heat 50 ml of the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish over a low heat. Finely slice 2 of the garlic cloves and fry gently with the onion until soft and translucent. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the curry spice mix and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the tamarind paste, tomato and water and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes, adding a splash more water if need be.
  3. Towards the end of the cooking time, finely chop the remaining garlic clove. Heat the remaining oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over a high heat. Season the prawns with salt and pepper and cook for a minute only, tossing so they colour evenly. Stir in the chopped garlic and stir well, then tip into the pan with the sauce. Throw in the fresh herbs, stir to combine and serve straight away.
Middle Eastern
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again