Prawn Do Pyaza: Prawns cooked in Onion Sauce




Today we have succulent prawns nestled in a sauce cooked with plenty of onions. Do Pyaza are typically the Indian dishes where either meat, vegetables or seafood is cooked with plenty of onions.





Growing up, Do Pyaza was a fancy term that was reserved for orders in the restaurants. Chicken or mutton coated in the rich aromatic sauce brings back nostalgia. Flaky parathas or naan accompanied them or sometimes pulao with caramelized onions and a salad on the side. Overall it was bliss.




The term Do Pyaza signifies “twice onion“; it either could be that the onion is added twice to the dish or that onion is added in double amount. I had posted the Bhindi Do Pyaza, where I had added two times the amount of onion to the okra. However today the prawns are cooked in a way where onions are added in two phases, once pureed and again sliced, resulting in a sumptuous gravy redolent of whole spices and the flavors of slow cooked  and slightly caramelized onions.


Meat, prawns and vegetables in my home were never called Do Pyaza, even if they were cooked with plenty of onions. Maybe because it is a term from the northern parts of India. We went by the  everyday, plain “kosha” or “braised”. So Do Pyaza was definitely more lavish, exotic and for special occasions.





My cousin is visiting me now. A sister of my heart; the one I grew up with and shared all of my childhood with. Now we get to meet about once a year for a few days and those few days are spent not just catching up, but also reminiscing over the years and sharing the laughter between us we will never lose. She has been cooking for me with an effort to giving me a break. I have posted  a few of couple of her recipes here and here.


Here is again another recipe she made for us.





Prawn Do Pyaza: Prawns cooked in Onion Sauce

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  1. 1/2 pound large prawns, (about 20-24) – shelled and deveined. You may leave the tail on if you wish
  2. 2 large onions, (about 2 cups packed, chopped) – divided
  3. 1 hot green chilli pepper, slit
  4.  2 inch cinnamon stick
  5. 3 green cardamom, cracked to release the seeds
  6. 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  7. 2 tejpatta/Indian Bay leaves
  8. 3 tablespoon oil
  9. salt to taste
  10. red chilli powder (Kashmiri Red Chili Powder, or cayenne, or paprika)
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, divided
  12. 1.5 tablespoon freshly ground coriander powder
  13. 2 tablespoon heavy fresh cream + 2 tablespoon milk (or if you want a lighter version, use all milk) **
  14. fresh herbs like fresh coriander or mint for garnish

** Note: If you do not want to use milk/cream, you may use a tablespoon of tomato paste or 1/4 cup fresh grated tomato instead. This is to add some volume and texture to the sauce.




Blend one cup/1 onion to a puree. Slice the other onion in thin half moons.

Shell, de-vein and wash the shrimp. Pat them dry and sprinkle half the turmeric and some salt and allow them to sit for about fifteen minutes.

Heat about one fourth of the oil; place the shrimp on the hot oil in a single layer and cook until they start to curl and turn opaque, for a couple of minutes. Flip them over and cook the other side. Remove them and set them aside.

In a bowl, add /4 cup of hot water and add the coriander powder, the rest of the turmeric, salt and the red chili powder. Stir and set aside.

Add the rest of the oil and allow it to heat up. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon,  and cardamom. After thirty seconds add the cumin seeds. When the seeds sizzle add the slit green chilli pepper and the sliced onions and fry them until they start to turn golden or slightly brown on the edges. Now add the pureed onions. Cook at medium heat while stirring very frequently so the paste does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

After 7-10 minutes add the mix of spices and water to the pan, stir well, cover and cook until the oil separates along the sides of the pan, while stirring frequently. If you are not using milk/cream and using tomato instead, add the tomato/puree or the paste combined with a few tablespoon of water now. Make sure the onion paste is well cooked or else the sauce will smell of raw onions. If the raw taste is still there, keep cooking at low to medium heat, making sure it does not burn.

Once the onion paste is well cooked, add the cooked prawns and toss for the spice mix to coat them. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Now add the cream/milk, stir it all together, cook for a minute and remove from heat. Adjust salt and garnish with fresh herbs.

Serve hot with rice/pilaf/pulao.


Preparation Time: Less than 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Serves: 4 as side

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