Books by Richard Sayce

Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 1
Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 2 Front Cover
Curry Compendium Cookbook
King Prawn Zafrani

BIR Zafrani Curry Recipe:

Zafrani is a mild, delicate, aromatic curry infused with saffron, cardamom and fennel, in a sauce with added tamarind, cream, and fresh coriander. I find this curry works very well with king prawns, which are added near the end of the curry cooking. Alternatively, pre-cooked chicken or chicken tikka also perform admirably in a zafrani curry.

Saffron is a spice created from the strands within the crocus flower. It’s the world’s most expensive spice when measured by weight, mostly because it needs to be harvested by hand. It has a very special, clean, delicate, yet pronounced flavour that will please your taste buds.

This recipe will feed 1-2 people. Scroll down for the video.

You can also find this Zafrani curry recipe in my books CURRY COMPENDIUM and INDIAN RESTAURANT CURRY AT HOME VOLUME 2. All my books are available in both physical and kindle formats.


  • A small pinch of Saffron (12-15
  • 3 TBSP (45ml) Oil, Ghee or a combination
  • 10cm Cassia Bark or Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 100g Onion, sliced
  • 1½-2 tsp Ginger/Garlic Paste
  • 1tsp Kasuri Methi
  • 1¼ tsp Mix Powder
  • ½ tsp Tandoori Masala
  • ¼ tsp Salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder (optional)
  • 4 TBSP Tomato Paste
  • 1½ TBSP each of fresh Coriander Stalks and Leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Elachi Powder or the seeds from 3-4 Green Cardamom Pods
  • Pre-cooked Chicken or Chicken Tikka (if using meat instead of prawns)
  • 330ml+ Base Gravy
  • 1 TBSP Tamarind Table Sauce, ½ tsp Tamarind Concentrate, or 2-3 tsp Tamarind Pulp
  • 150-175g King Prawns, raw (translucent) or pre-cooked (pink) – if using prawns


  • 3 TBSP (45ml) Single Cream
  • A Sprinkle of Saffron to garnish
  • A Wedge of Lemon or Lime
King Prawn Zafrani


  1. Soak the saffron strands with a little hot water (or milk) in a small cup and set aside.
  2. Add the oil to a frying pan on medium high heat.
  3. Throw in the cassia bark and fennel seeds.
  4. Fry for 30-45 seconds to infuse the oil while stirring frequently.
  5. Now add the onion slices and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft and browned very slightly.
  6. Next add the ginger/garlic paste. Fry for 30-40 seconds or until it just starts to brown and the sizzling sound lessens. Stir frequently to stop it sticking to the pan.
  7. Add the kasuri methi, mix powder, tandoori masala, salt, and the optional Kashmiri chilli powder.
  8. Fry for 20-30 seconds, stirring very frequently. Add a little base gravy (e.g. 30ml) if the mixture dries out and sticks to the pan. This avoids burning the spices and gives them enough time to cook properly.
  9. Add the tomato paste, coriander stalks, elachi powder or green cardamom seeds, and turn up the heat to high.
  10. If using pre-cooked chicken, tikka, lamb, or other pre-cooked meat, add it now and mix well, making sure the meat pieces are coated in the sauce.
  11. Add 75ml of base gravy, mix, then leave to cook for 30-45 seconds with no further stirring.


  1. Then add a second 75ml of base gravy, stir into the sauce, and leave on high heat with no further stirring until the sauce is reduced a little, and small, dry craters form around the edges.
  2. Stir in a final 150ml of base gravy and the tamarind.
  3. Leave to cook on high heat for 3-4 minutes. Stir and scrape once or twice to mix the caramelised sauce back in, but do this only to prevent the sauce from sticking too much and burning. Do however let the sauce thicken and caramelise on the bottom and sides of the pan – this gives a superb flavour.
  4. Now add the king prawns and the saffron water. Bear in mind that they will release a little water when cooking which will thin the sauce out a bit.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the single cream and add the fresh coriander leaves.
  6. Cook for a further 2-2½ minutes or until the prawns have heated through and are thoroughly cooked. Add some extra base gravy near the end of cooking if it appears to be thickening up too much.
  7. Taste and season with salt and/or mango chutney to taste.
  8. Fish out the cassia bark and discard it. You can also spoon off any excess oil from the surface of the curry if you wish.
  9. Serve garnished with a wedge of lemon/lime and a sprinkle of saffron strands.


  • All spoon measurements are level (1 tsp = 5ml, 1 TBSP = 15ml).
  • Saffron can be bought in small plastic boxes at reasonable prices from many South Asian food shops and supermarkets. It’s used sparingly so does go a long way.
  • Raw prawns are best for this curry, either fresh or defrosted from frozen. Pre-cooked prawns are OK but can turn rubbery easily.
  • You can of course use small prawns instead of the larger variety. Care should be taken not to overcook them.
  • I have reduced the amount of cream in this recipe to 45ml from the 75ml that is captioned in the accompanying YouTube video. I have also increased the fennel seeds from ½ to 1 tsp and reduced the amount of salt to ¼ tsp to compensate for the saltiness of the prawns. 
  • Enjoy this Zafrani curry recipe, and please visit the Misty Ricardo’s Curry Kitchen YouTube Channel for lots of Indian recipes.
Watch the Video


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