Warming Kerala Prawn Congee For Winter Afternoons

Congee, the Asian rice porridge, is often categorized as bland, lifeless gruel. What most people don’t realise that with a few tweaks in flavour and the addition of some beautiful aromatics, it can be transformed into a meal that is comforting, warm and easy on the stomach. With a chill hanging constantly in the air, the nose and throat seem to always be blocked. This Kerala-style prawn congee, infused with the healing properties of whole black pepper, garlic and coriander feels almost effortless to make and leaves your house smelling like everything you put into the cooking pot.

Most traditional congee preparations, due to their mild taste, are usually eaten with accompaniments that elevate its taste; chilli paste or chilli oil, soy sauce, fried onions or even a drizzle of chicken or pork fat. All this recipe needs is a spoonful of garlic oil dolloped over, once the congee has been poured into a bowl. Because it is easy on the stomach, this prawn congee is not going to get flak for inducing naps or leaving you feeling heavy. Find a recipe that serves two, below.




  • 2 cups water
  • 1 stock cube
  • ¼ cup kolam rice
  • 250 grams prawns, cleaned and deveined
  • 4 + 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped with stems
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  • Grind the chopped coriander, garlic and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle to a coarse paste. Add half of the paste to the prawns and allow to marinate for a few minutes.
  • Add the rice and water along with the stock cube to a large pot and cook until the rice has gone over slightly in cooking time.
  • Heat some oil in a pan and fry the marinated prawns just until they begin to change colour. Add the cooked prawns, remaining pepper-garlic-coriander paste and soy sauce to the cooked rice mixture. Cook it down further for 3-4 minutes and clamp on a lid.
  • Allow it to sit off the flame for 5-10 minutes while you slice the remaining three cloves of garlic and fry them in oil until they start to turn brown on the edges.
  • Ladle up the congee in bowls and spoon over the garlic oil. Top up with the fried garlic flakes and chopped coriander. Serve warm.