Spicy prawns

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This spicy prawns recipe comes from Morocco. M’hammar is one of the four basic flavour combinations of Moroccan cuisine, with its main ingredients being garlic, paprika and cumin. With the addition of chopped red chilli, this prawn dish is worthy rival to the popular garlic prawns. In this recipe the spice gives a flavour, not heat. Prawns are available either raw or cooked, in or out of their shells. Cold-water prawns (which are the smaller, more standard prawns) are usually peeled, cooked and frozen on board ships. The most sustainable sources are from the North East Arctic and Canada. Warm-water prawns, such as tiger and king prawns are farmed and it is best to choose those that are organic or from a certified fishery.


375 g raw prawns

3 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cumin

½tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsps chopped red chilli

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp paprika

2 tbsp finely chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

lemon wedges, to serve

spicy prawns 2


Peel the prawns, leaving the tails intact. To devein the prawns, cut a slit down the back  and remove any visible vein. Put the prawns in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Shake colander to remove any excess water, sprinkle the prawns with ½ teaspoon salt, toss through and set aside.

Pour the olive oil into a large frying pan and place over medium heat. Stir in the ground cumin, cumin seeds, ginger and chilli. Cook until fragrant and the cumin seeds start to pop. Add the garlic, turmeric and paprika. Cook, stirring, for a few seconds, then add the prawns. Increase the heat a little and fry the prawns, tossing frequently, for 3 – 4 minutes until they firm up and turn pink. Stir in the coriander and 3 tablespoons water. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Serve with the lemon wedges and rice.