Thursday, 9 April 2015

Ribbon Rice

An exclusive from Niloufer's Kitchen

Ribbon Rice

It seems only those originating from Karachi and fond of Parsi Cuisine are familiar with this dish. It would be very interesting to learn if anyone of you from any other part of the world have ever eaten this? The closest to this is found In the Indian subcontinent where it is referred to as Rainbow Rice; a combination of a variety of rice like tomato rice, saffron rice, Khichri  and plain boiled rice served with layers of kheema or prawn patia.

Although different to this recipe, Metropole Hotel in Karachi used to regularly offer a similar dish on their wedding and navjote menus. Perhaps even deemed as their signature dish at one point? In our home it was always prepared for a birthday. It has 3 steps to completion but is not as complicated as it reads. Grinding the chutney and prawn masala ahead of time can help on the day off. Ribbon rice is also often referred to as prawn and green chutney palau.

Step 1
Prawn curry

Grind together till fine

9  large dry red chillies
12 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tsp of jeera
1 generously full cup dessicated or freshly grated coconut
1/3rd cup vinegar
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt

In a pan heat 2 tbsp oil. Add and cook the spices/ground masala for 15 minutes on a very low flame and then add to it 3/4kg/1 1/2 lb of prawns.
Cook  till done about 7 minutes.

Step 2
Green chutney

Grind together till fine

1 cup generously full dessicated or freshly scraped coconut
12 green chillies
1 large bunch of fresh coriander
1 tbsp jaggery
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup  fresh lemon juice
optionally, 1 raw mango, peeled and chopped.

Step 3

Boil  1 ½ cups plain rice with salt and water until almost cooked. ( Depending on the method you use to cook the rice; Either drain off water or the water should be evaporated at this stage.) 

Mix in it 1 cup yogurt that has been well stirred with a pinch of salt and  sugar
Cover the pot tightly and simmer for 20 minutes.

Assemble in a 10 inch spring form pan, lightly greased with oil.
Layer with rice, then chutney then rice then prawns then rice again and press down hard to get it firmly together.

Open up spring form and decorate the platter with green and red chillies coriander and a few prawns. Some hard boiled eggs.


The green chutney should be khati-tikhi-mithi as in sour-spicy-sweet. The perfect balance is possible with the help of green chillies, jaggery and lemon juice. Everyones palates differ so taste your chutney as you go along for your idea of perfection. Jaggery and brown or white sugar will give u the same end result. Fresh lemon or lime juice and a raw green mango have the khata or sour effect. Green chillies cannot be substituted but the numbers can be added or subtracted according to your own personal spice meter!

Read about the origins of Parsi Food in my cookbook 
The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.

For other wonderful Parsi Cuisine recipes click
Niloufer's Kitchen: Quick and Easy

Photo credit Sheriar Hirjikaka

Comments from a Reader

11th October 2017
Mehereen Bhaijiwala I love so many things from your blog and book. My favorite are of course the Batasas followed closely by the prawn biryani and then the ribbon rice. Yum!!!! I could go on and on so many recipes,so little space..

April 12, 2015
Nurelle M
Here is my delicious Ribbon Rice!


  1. This recipe sounds like a winner! Want to try it but a few questions, when I substitute prawns with Mutton or beef Qeema, do I use the same quantity? Also, how much salt do you add according to your taste, any approximation will be appreciated.

  2. Hi Era, Thank you for the interest in this recipe. This particular one is tailor made for prawns only. Substitutions may preferably be any other seafood like crab meat, lobster meat or even scallops and fish pieces. The one with Qeema is called Rainbow Rice and has got layers of saffron rice or khichri/khichdi. However if you still wish to go ahead and add the Qeema yes the same quantity would be more than enough. I have changed the salt to taste to 1 tsp of salt which is the general rule of thumb in this amount. I hope all this helps. Warm regards from Niloufer's Kitchen.

  3. Pukki Biryani- Rice, meat and sauce are cooked separately and then layered in the final stage of cooking. This means that the rice and the meat retain their individual taste and flavoring.1977 top film

    1. Yes Calvin, Meat Biryani is generally cooked like that, as is my prawn and fish biryani. What is Pukki Biryani? Is it part of Bohri Food? Sounds delicious.An authentic Parsi Meat Biryani will always include potatoes!!

  4. Hi Niloufer, This is such a lovely dish. I am planning to make it. What do you serve as a side dish (gravy? Ras?) with it?

    1. Thank you, We generally serve it on its own. Part of a buffet or other menu which may have a gravy perhaps.