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Prawn tagine with saffron, ginger and fennel

Ghillie Basan / 29 August 2019

Shellfish tagines like this prawn tagine are inspired by Andalusian cuisine.

Prawn tagine with saffron, ginger and fennel
Prawn tagine with saffron, ginger and fennel. Photography © Ryland Peters & Small

Cooking time

30 minutes




  • 4–5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 20 raw king prawns, with heads removed
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • A pinch of saffron threads
  • 1–2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 x 400g can of tomatoes, drained of juice
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • A small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced thickly lengthways
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bread, to serve


Many shellfish tagines are not so much traditional as they are inspired by cultural influences, such as the prawn/shrimp and mussel tagines of Tangier that resemble the cooking of Andalusia across the Mediterranean Sea. Serve this tagine as a first or second course with chunks of crusty bread.

Heat 2–3 tablespoons of the olive oil in the base of a tagine or a heavy-based casserole. Add the prawns and cook for 2–3 minutes, until they turn opaque. Using a slotted spoon, remove the prawns from the tagine and set aside. Keep the oil in the pan.

Stir the onion, garlic, ginger and saffron into the oil and sauté for 3–4 minutes, until they begin to colour. Add the paprika, tomatoes and half the herbs. Stir in the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently, partially covered, for about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens to form a sauce.

Meanwhile, steam the fennel for about 5 minutes, until it softens. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan and add the steamed fennel. Cook gently on both sides for 4–5 minutes, until it turns golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Toss the cooked prawns in the tomato sauce, place the fennel on top, cover with the lid, and cook gently for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining coriander and parsley immediately before serving.

The Modern Tagine Cookbook by Ghillie Başan, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£9.99)

Visit our Middle Eastern recipe section for more delicious Arabic recipes


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.