I am finally sharing this amazing dish called Machboos Rubyan, a total hit in Bahrain and other Gulf countries. It's like a classic Arabian rice dish that's bursting with flavours! They cook it up with a simple mix of spices, rice, and juicy prawns or shrimp, which they call rubyan. Yum! It's seriously a must-try if you're into delicious rice dishes and want to explore some awesome Arabian cuisine. Sahten!
Prawn Machboos is served with a kickass yoghurt-based sauce that takes the flavour game to a whole new level. And you know what's even better? Having it with full-fat laban. Yum. This dish is the best option to serve during family gatherings and festive celebrations.
So, get ready to whip up this fantastic recipe inspired by my Umma (mother-in-law) and my Bahrain chicken machboos recipe but with a twist – we're going all-in with those whole prawns or shrimps today! Get those aprons on, because we're about to get messy with the prawns! 🍤
Alright, you might already know F's aversion to seafood (and hence no fish recipes here) but Prawns and shrimp are his jam! And when it comes to cooking, I'm all about ease, so I used to go for the pre-cleaned and deveined ones - you know, convenience is king! Not anymore...
I stumbled upon a secret to making the most finger-licking shrimp machboos ever. Turns out, it's all about that freshly prepared shrimp stock! So, of course, I had to give it a shot.
Oh, guess what? Making this dish turned me into a prawn-peeling pro! And let me tell you, I've rocked this prawns and rice combo not just once, not twice, but over three times already! It's safe to say I'm hooked on cooking up this deliciousness! 🍤🍚💪
So, the main ingredients of Prawn Machboos include:
- Prawns or Shrimps: Rubyan is just the fancy Arabic word for these scrumptious sea creatures. This recipe calls for fresh whole prawns so we get to use the heads and shells for making the stock.
- Ground Spices: We've got the flavour boosters - garam masala, turmeric, coriander, and cumin powder.
- Veggies: Get ready to chop up some ginger, garlic, green chillies, red onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, and fresh coriander leaves.
- Whole Spices: Let's add aromatic flavour with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and dried black lime (loomi).
- Basmati Rice: You can't have this dish without this fragrant rice variety.
- cooking oil
See the recipe card for quantities.
The Machboos Rubyan preparation process involves a few stages:
- Peel, remove head and devein the prawns (keeping the tail intact is optional)
- Prepare the stock using the shells and heads with some aromatics
- Cook the rice with the prepared stock
- Pan fry the seasoned prawns
- Serve the yellow rice topped with prawns
Prep the prawns stock
Get that counter prepped and ready for peeling and deveining. Rinse them thoroughly under running water in a colander. Here's my little pro tip: lay those whole prawns on a bed of ice cubes while you work on them. It keeps them fresh and makes the process a breeze!
Let's get our bowls in position for this prawn peeling party:
Bowl #1: This one's for collecting all those prawn heads and shells. #2: Place your peeled and deveined prawns in this. #3: A small bowl with water to help us remove the deveined digestive tract off our hands or knife.
A pot of prawn heads and shells for making stock and a bowl of prawns with tails intact - which is optional.
Grab a stock pot and toss in the prawn shells and heads (keep them from the cleaning), halved onion, garlic bulb, lemon, cinnamon stick, and a pinch of salt.
Fill it up with water and bring it to a boil.
Then, lower the heat and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes to get all those flavours out.
Now, strain that tasty stock through a fine sieve and keep it aside for our grand finale! 😉 I served the discards in a large tray for my cats and one of them devoured it.
Add a mix of garam masala, turmeric, minced garlic cloves, a splash of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Give it a good mix to coat those prawns evenly. Now, let them marinate in all that goodness for at least 15-20 minutes. While they're getting all flavorful, you can rinse and soak the basmati rice.
Saute the aromatics
Grab a big pot (that has a fitting lid), heat up 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and 2 teaspoons of ghee over medium heat. Toss in those whole spices and let 'em sizzle for about a minute until they smell amazing.
Now, add the diced onions and sauté until they go all translucent.
Next up, the chopped bell pepper. Sauté 'em until they get nice and soft.
It's time to add some magic - stir in the ginger garlic paste and green chillies. Cook for another minute until the raw smell disappears.
Throw in the roughly chopped tomatoes. I like to cut them into roundels they tend to cook down faster. It is also easy to fish out the skins if you don't want them in the dish. You can use canned tomatoes too.
Add the ground spices. Mix everything up so those veggies are coated with those awesome spices. Let it cook until the tomatoes start to break down. If it's getting too dry, add a few tablespoons of the prepared stock or water to prevent burning the spices.
Boil the rice
Pour in that prepared prawns/shrimp stock (about 2 ½ cups) and bring it all to a boil.
Now, add the drained basmati rice and let the whole thing come to a full boil on medium to high heat. Don't forget to check the salt and add what you need. Keep boiling until the water reduces, and the rice starts surfacing.
Once you see that rice on the surface, lower the heat to the lowest setting. Cover the pot with foil and then put a lid on it.
Oh, and don't forget to place a heat diffuser below. Now, let that rice cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Can you smell it already? Open the lid and gently give the rice a stir. Cover it up again, switch off the heat, and let it rest for another 8 to 10 minutes. It's getting there!
Grab a separate small pan and heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil along with a scrumptious knob of butter over medium-high heat.
Toss in a few prawns and cook them on medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until they become golden brown and crispy on both sides. Time to turn off the heat and add in those freshly chopped coriander leaves and a splash of lemon juice. Give it a good stir to mix all that goodness.
And there you have it, a mouthwatering prawn topping that'll take your Machboos Rubyan to the next level! 🍤🍚🌿🍋
Hint: When you're serving your pals some delicious Machboos Rubyan, it's always a good idea to find out if they prefer their prawns with or without the tail. I am ok with either but my partner prefers without the tail. So, going forward I would be removing the tail when making prawn machboos. It's all about those little details that make everyone's dining experience even more enjoyable.
How to serve?
Serve Machboos Rubyan into a serving dish. Sprinkle some fresh coriander leaves and give it a nice squeeze of lemon juice for that extra zing. Then comes the star of the show – those fried prawns! Arrange them right on top of the Machboos. To take it to the next level, serve it up with some salted yoghurt or laban for that perfect pairing. And don't forget to add a refreshing Arabic salad on the side. It's the perfect combo!
Did you know?
For the longest time, I believed that to devein the prawns means to remove the black thread-like thing from its underneath. Yes, and I am glad I wasn't alone in this belief. But thanks to Youtube and all celebrated chefs I learnt that you are supposed to devein the black thread-like thing that runs over from head to tail.
Here are my suggestions for substitutions to make this prawns and rice dish.
- prawns: You can swap them out with shrimp if that's what you've got!
- garam masala: If you've got an Arabic spice mix lying around, use that. I'm using my trusty Malabar garam masala for that seafood magic.
- basmati rice: Any long-grain rice you've got in your kitchen will do the trick. Just adjust the stock or water as per the pack instructions. Oh, and if you're feeling adventurous, go for sella basmati rice - it's perfect for those Arabic rice dishes!
- cooking oil: I've been using olive oil with a dash of butter or ghee throughout the cooking process. But feel free to use whatever cooking oil you have on hand. A little ghee or butter won't hurt, though – adds that irresistible flavour and richness!
- Loomi: Don't worry if you can't find the dark brown or yellow dried black lime. Just grab any kind you can get your hands on! And if you're stuck, lemon or lime juice is fine, though they do lack the pungent flavour.
Making Machboos is a piece of cake with any meat or seafood you fancy. Here's the concept: Get your meat or poultry or seafood and boil it up with some awesome aromatics to make that tasty stock. Once the pieces are cooked, take them out of the stock, and then cook that rice right in that flavorful, onion-tomato-infused stock. Yum!
Now, it's time to add some colour! Brown those meat pieces on a grill or pan to perfection. Serve it up like a pro - pile that delicious meat on top of the rice, and you're good to go! Oh, don't forget the secret to success - tweak the spices to bring out the best flavours of the protein you're using.
So there you have it, a versatile and mouthwatering Machboos that'll leave everyone wanting more!
Here are a few ideas:
- chicken or quail machboos
- fish machboos (samak)
- lamb or goat or mutton or beef (lahm) machboos
If you end up with any leftovers of prawn machboos you can store them. I would store the prawns separately in a container and refrigerate them for not more than 2 days. It is better to consume them sooner. Transfer the leftover rice into an airtight container and refrigerate and consume it within 3 to 5 days.
When you're ready to enjoy the leftovers, reheat them thoroughly in the microwave or on the stovetop until they are piping hot. I would cover and reheat to retain the moisture.
Shrimps and prawns are quick cooks, no doubt. But here's the deal - if you keep 'em on the heat for too long, they turn all rubbery on us. So, here's the secret to perfection - not more than 3 minutes. Don't overcook those beauties! Keep an eye on 'em, and when they're just right, you'll have the most amazing, tender, and juicy prawns or shrimp ever!
Using frozen prawns for Machboos can be convenient and budget-friendly, but keep in mind that the fresh whole prawns or shrimp pack a lot more flavour. The head and shells give that extra oomph! But if you're going with frozen, skip the stock-making, and start with sautéing for the rice. Add the thawed peeled prawns and boil for 3 minutes. Then fish them out and set them aside. Continue with the rice-making process. Before serving, pan-fry the boiled prawns in butter on a hot pan for a minute to add some colour. Enjoy! 🍤🍚🔥
Get that frying pan hot, medium-high to high heat! It's key for quick cooking and a perfect sear without overdoing it. Add high-heat cooking oil and avoid overcrowding the pan with too many prawns or shrimp. Fry them in batches if necessary, giving each one enough space to cook evenly. Cook for just 1 minute per side – watch for that pink colour and curling up, and you're good to go. If overcooked, they'll get tough and rubbery. As soon as they're done, take them off the heat to stop any extra cooking.
Looking for other recipes that use dried lime? Try these:
End the meal with one of these Arabic desserts:
Machboos Rubyan (Prawns and Rice)
- 1 stock pot (for preparing the stock)
- 1 thick and flat-bottomed pot with a lid (for preparing rice)
- 1 skillet (for frying the prawns)
- 1 heat diffuser (for under the pot of rice)
For prawns/shrimp stock:
- 500 grams prawns cleaned, peeled and deveined (shells and heads reserved)
- 1 medium onion halved
- ½ whole bulb of garlic
- ½ Lemon wedges halved
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon salt
For marinating prawns:
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoon olive oil or butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 ¼ cup basmati rice
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 teaspoon ghee or butter
- 4 green cardamom
- ½ inch cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- 1 loomi (black dried lime)
- 1 small red onion diced finely
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste 3 garlic and ½ inch ginger
- 3 to 5 green chillies chopped
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes
- 2 ½ cup stock prepared prawns stock
- Fresh coriander leaves chopped
- salt to taste
- 10 grams butter
For frying prawns or shrimp
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon ghee or butter
- Fresh coriander leaves
- a squeeze of lemon
Prepare Prawns/Shrimp Stock:
- In a large pot, add the prawn shells and heads (reserved from the cleaning) along with the halved onion, garlic bulb, lemon, cinnamon stick, and salt.500 grams prawns, 1 medium onion, ½ whole bulb of garlic, ½ Lemon wedges, 1 inch cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon salt
- Cover the ingredients with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes to extract the flavours.
- Strain the stock through a fine sieve and set it aside for later use.
Marinate the Prawns/Shrimp:
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cleaned and deveined prawns with garam masala, turmeric, minced garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well to coat the prawns evenly with the marinade.½ teaspoon garam masala, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, 2 garlic cloves, 2 teaspoon olive oil or butter, Salt and pepper to taste
- Allow the prawns to marinate for at least 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, you can start preparing the ingredients for the rice.
Cook the Basmati Rice:
- Rinse the basmati rice gently until the water runs clear. Soak for 30 minutes in room temp water. Drain the rice and set it aside.1 ¼ cup basmati rice
- In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and 2 teaspoons of ghee over medium heat.1 tablespoon cooking oil, 2 teaspoon ghee or butter
- Add the whole spices and sauté for a minute until aromatic.4 green cardamom, ½ inch cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, 1 loomi
- Add the diced onions and sauté until the onions become translucent.1 small red onion
- Add the chopped bell pepper and sauté until they soften.1 bell pepper
- Stir in the ginger garlic paste and green chillies and cook for another minute until the raw smell disappears.1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, 3 to 5 green chillies
- Add the roughly chopped tomatoes along with ground spices and mix well to coat the vegetables with the spices. Cook until the tomatoes start to break down. Here, you may add a few tablespoons of prepared stock or water to prevent burning the spices.¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 2 medium-sized tomatoes, 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- Pour in the prepared prawns/shrimp stock (about 2 ½ cups) and bring it to a boil. Then stir in the chopped coriander leaves.2 ½ cup stock, Fresh coriander leaves
- Stir in the drained basmati rice and bring the whole thing to a full boil on medium to high heat. Check the salt and add as needed. Boil until the water reduces and the rice surfaces.salt to taste
- When the rice surfaces, reduce the heat to the lowest, cover the pot with foil and then a lid, and place a heat diffuser below. Let the rice cook for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Open and gently stir the rice, cover again, switch off and let it rest for another 8 to 10 minutes.
- Lastly, add a knob of butter or ghee on top of the rice for added richness.10 grams butter
Fry the Prawns/Shrimp:
- In a separate small pan, heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and a knob of butter over medium-high heat.1 tablespoon cooking oil, 1 teaspoon ghee or butter
- Fry a few prawns on medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until they turn golden brown and crispy on both sides.
- Switch off and stir in the freshly chopped coriander leaves and lemon juice.Fresh coriander leaves, a squeeze of lemon
Serve Machboos Rubyan:
- Transfer the prepared Machboos Rubyan to a serving dish. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice for added freshness. Arrange the fried prawns on top of the Machboos. Serve with salted yoghurt or laban and any Arabic salad.