Prawns with Persian Split Pea Sauce

Prawns with Persian Split Pea Sauce

Prawns with Persian split pea sauce is a seafood version of the classic Persian dish, khoresh-e gheymeh, in which lamb is braised in a rich sauce with yellow split peas. For me that dish is really all about the delicious sauce, which I love with chicken, seafood, or even on its own over steamed rice for a vegetarian meal. Taking the pan off the heat as soon as you add the prawns is the best way to ensure they remain succulent – a few minutes submerged in the hot thick sauce is all they need to cook through if they are at room temperature when they’re added. Dried black limes (also called Omani limes) are a classic Persian ingredient and I love the complex sour note they give to this dish. Skip the fried potato topping if you like, though it is delicious, and serve a chopped salad or platter of fresh herbs (called sabzi khordan in Farsi, see video). Some thick natural yoghurt, with or without cucumber, is a great addition too. Dried black limes and premium Persian saffron are available online from Saffron & More.

Serves 2

Ingredients
  • 90g yellow split peas
  • 6 medium-sized green prawns
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1¼ teaspoons Advieh (Persian Spice Blend)
  • 1½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • 70g grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1½ cups water, or more as needed
  • 2 dried black limes
  • Pinch saffron threads, soaked in 1 tablespoon water
  • 150g potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Steamed basmati rice, for serving
  • Salad or fresh herbs, for serving (see video below)
Method
  1. Place split peas in a saucepan with plenty of water and bring to the boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently for 30–40 minutes, until just tender, then drain and rinse.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and devein prawns and set them aside to come to room temperature.
  4. Place oil in a heavy-based frying pan over low–medium heat.
  5. Add onion and a generous pinch of salt, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10–15 minutes, until just starting to colour.
  6. Add turmeric, Advieh and a good grind of pepper and stir for about 30 seconds, until aromatic.
  7. Add tomato paste and stir for a minute or so, until aromatic.
  8. Add tomato and drained split peas and stir for minute or so, until well combined.
  9. Stir in the water.
  10. Pierce the limes in a couple of places with the tip of a knife and stir them in.
  11. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until split peas are completely tender; if it starts to catch on the base of the pan, add a splash more water. Once the limes have softened, gently press them to extract some of the juice.
  12. Taste, add salt and stir in the saffron and its soaking water.
  13. Add prawns and stir to ensure they’re fully submerged in the sauce.
  14. Cover, remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes or so.
  15. Meanwhile, heat a good layer of oil (about 1cm) in a small pan, add potato and fry for 5–10 minutes, stirring regularly, until tender and crisp.
  16. Drain on paper towel on a rack over a plate.
  17. Transfer prawns and sauce to a shallow bowl, top with potato, sprinkle potato with salt and serve with rice and herbs or salad.

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Sabzi Khordan (Persian Herb Platter)

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