Prawn and Tomato Stew

I was gifted the cookbook Falastin by a dear friend, and I’ve already made many recipes from it. The authors are Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, and the book is all about the food of Palestine, published in 2020.

From the book, “There is no letter “P” in the Arabic language so “Falastin” (pronounced “fa-la’steen”) is, in one sense, simply the way “Falastinians” refer to themselves. But this word is also about geography, history language, land, identity, and culture. Falastin is a celebration of this culture: the recipes and stories, the food and the people of Palestine.

I chose to make an enticing prawn and tomato stew, made with fresh tomatoes. It’s hearty, warming with the spices, but also has a fresh element with the cilantro pesto.

I don’t mean to disrespect the great Sami Tamimi, but 3 ingredients in this dish caught my attention – the use of cilantro, ginger, and dill together. I am familiar with cilantro and ginger together in Asian cuisines, but the dill really confused me. Not being a huge dill fan I omitted it. I would not have been surprised if it was mint instead of the dill, but there it is.

Prawn and Tomato Stew with Cilantro Pesto
Serves 4

Cilantro pesto:
1½ cups cilantro (30g), roughly chopped
1 green chile finely chopped
⅓ cup plus 2 tbsp pine nuts (50g) lightly toasted, reserve 1 tbsp for garnish when serving
1 lemon finely grate the zest to get 1½ tsp, then cut into wedges for serving
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil (80ml)
salt and pepper

9 oz cherry tomatoes (250g)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (60ml)
1 large yellow onion (1¼ cups / 180g) finely chopped
4 garlic cloves crushed
¾-inch / 2cm piece of ginger (1½ tbsp / 15g) peeled and finely grated
1 green chile finely chopped, with seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds lightly crushed in mortar and pestle (if needed, substitute with 2 tsp ground coriander instead)
1½ tsp cumin seeds lightly crushed in mortar and pestle (if needed, substitute with 1½ tsp ground cumin instead)
8 cardamom pods lightly crushed in mortar and pestle (if needed, substitute with ½ tsp ground cardamom instead)
1 cup dill leaves (20g) finely chopped (I didn’t use)
2 tsp tomato paste
6 plum tomatoes (2¾ cups / 500g) roughly chopped
1¼ cups water
salt and black pepper to taste
1⅓ lbs shrimp (600g) peeled

To make the cilantro pesto, combine cilantro, chile and pine nuts into a food processor and pulse a few times, until the pine nuts are roughly crumbled and incorporated with the cilantro and chile. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and add the lemon zest, olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix to combine, then set aside.

Place a large sauté pan over high heat. Toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 tsp of olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add the cherry tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice, until blistered and charred on all sides. Remove tomatoes from the pan and set aside.

Wipe the pan clean, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and place it over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasinally, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic, ginger, chile, coriander, cumin, cardamom, dill and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the plum tomatoes, water, 1½ tsp of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then decrease heat to medium and cook for 25 minutes, uncovered, or until the sauce has thickened and the tomatoes have broken down.

Pat the prawns dry and mix them in a bowl with ¼ tsp of salt, 1 tbsp olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Put 2 tsp of olive oil into a large sauté pan and place over high heat. Once hot, add the shrimp in batches and fry for 1 minute on each side, until cooked through and nicely browned. Set each batch aside in small mixing bowl while you continue with the remaining prawns. When the sauce is ready, stir in the prawns and charred tomatoes and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, to heat through.

Serve either straight from the pan or spoon into wide shallow bowls.

Scoop out the cardamom pods if you like, they are there to flavor the dish rather than to be eaten. I couldn’t find my pods, so I opted for ground cardamom.

Dot the stew with about half of the pesto and pass the lemon wedges and remaining pesto in a bowl alongside.

Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of pine nuts on top.

This dish is outstanding and I will be making it again. The flavors are marvelous. The pesto, made with jalapeño and lemon in lieu of garlic, is wonderful, and pairs so well with the shrimp and tomatoes.

By Published On: September 29th, 202138 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

38 Comments

  1. Travel Gourmet September 29, 2021 at 6:16 AM - Reply

    This looks wonderful. I haven’t got Tami’s book but I’m now very tempted to buy it.

    • chef mimi September 29, 2021 at 9:24 AM - Reply

      I keep cooking from it! It’s wonderful!

  2. angiesrecipes September 29, 2021 at 6:51 AM - Reply

    This looks incredibly flavourful and delicious. I should consider to get a copy of this cookbook too.

    • chef mimi September 29, 2021 at 9:24 AM - Reply

      I highly recommend the book. It’s pretty wonderful.

  3. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen September 29, 2021 at 9:23 AM - Reply

    What an amazing dish! Thank you for posting Mimi!

  4. kitchenriffs September 29, 2021 at 10:10 AM - Reply

    The inclusion of dill confuses me a bit, too. Dill and shrimp, of course, are terrific together. But with ginger and cilantro? I’ll have to try that threesome one of these days — I can’t taste it (mentally, speaking) — whereas I can taste the mint you mentioned. Anyway, this looks wonderful — thanks.

    • chef mimi September 29, 2021 at 10:11 AM - Reply

      I know exactly what you mean… I can’t “taste” it either. I felt a little disrespectful to Mr. Tamimi, but….

  5. Anonymous September 29, 2021 at 4:36 PM - Reply

    Mimi, I really like the looks of this recipe but I really don’t like cilantro. One of those DNA things. I think I will try it with parsley pesto. What do you think?

    • Bernadette September 29, 2021 at 4:37 PM - Reply

      Mimi, I hit the send button too fast. Above is from me – Bernadette

    • chef mimi September 29, 2021 at 7:06 PM - Reply

      I recognize your photo! Too bad about the cilantro. I mean, I only say that because I love it so much. I think parsley would be the best sub, because it was really about adding some freshness to the stew. Great idea.

    • Mimi October 9, 2021 at 4:59 PM - Reply

      Parsley would be perfect!

  6. Cynthia M Woodman September 29, 2021 at 9:01 PM - Reply

    love all the flavors in this Mimi!

  7. Ben | Havocinthekitchen September 30, 2021 at 7:03 PM - Reply

    Ooo what a terrific stew idea – so comforting, homey, and soul-warming. Loving all the flavours and textures going on here (I can even tolerate the cilantro haha). Pass me a huge bowl please :)

    • chef mimi September 30, 2021 at 7:12 PM - Reply

      Soul-warming?! Love it. Yes, it does.

  8. Jovina Coughlin October 1, 2021 at 9:26 AM - Reply

    Lovely recipe for shrimp/ Looking forward to making it.

    • chef mimi October 1, 2021 at 10:09 AM - Reply

      I love Sami Tamimi’s recipes!

  9. sippitysup October 2, 2021 at 5:43 PM - Reply

    Sounds like a fascinating book (and a delicious recipe). I’ve been reading a similar cookbook by Yasmin Khan called Ripe Figs. It’s centered on the culture and food of Turkey Greece and Cypress. You might like it. It’s the most “political” cookbook I’ve ever read. GREG

    • Chef mimi October 4, 2021 at 4:32 PM - Reply

      Interesting! Although I’m not sure that’s a good thing!

  10. Sherry M October 3, 2021 at 4:19 AM - Reply

    yes to me that sounds really odd. dill with coriander and ginger? already such strong flavours. but i do love prawns – maybe without any tomatoes tho :) Not a fan of those little red beasties.

  11. carrietalkingmeals October 3, 2021 at 5:36 AM - Reply

    Wow, Mimi! This looks delicious! I’ll have to check out the cookbook. I used to hate cilantro growing up, but in my 20’s I turned a corner and now I love it! This cilantro pesto sounds so good. Thanks for this inspiration :)

    • chef mimi October 9, 2021 at 4:56 PM - Reply

      Thanks Carrie! I’m sure glad I love cilantro, and this pesto with the lemon instead of garlic was outstanding.

  12. Frank Fariello October 3, 2021 at 7:29 AM - Reply

    This sound delicious, Mimi. Like you I don’t care for dill so I think I’d omit it, too. I find Mediterranean cookery so fascinating whenever I venture out and try non-Italian dishes. Similar/same ingredients but such variety you can encounter just by adding some spices like cardamom or differing techniques.

    • Chef mimi October 4, 2021 at 4:38 PM - Reply

      And you need to post some French recipes from your Paris days! Not that Paris has Mediterranean food… but I was surprised when you mentioned that you lived there for a time!

  13. Jeff the Chef October 3, 2021 at 12:26 PM - Reply

    This sounds tasty! I don’t think I’ve ever had Palestinian food.

  14. David Scott Allen October 3, 2021 at 6:38 PM - Reply

    I’ve been wanting to get the book myself… you have convinced me to hit up Amazon after I leave here! I like Sami’s work a lot. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Mimi October 9, 2021 at 5:00 PM - Reply

      I can’t wait to make more recipes from this cookbook!

  15. Tandy | Lavender and Lime October 4, 2021 at 6:57 AM - Reply

    Falastin is one of the books not in my collection. Dave doesn’t like dill so your adaptation sounds great.

    • chef mimi October 12, 2021 at 8:22 AM - Reply

      I like a little dill, but a whole cup full?! No thank you.

  16. neil@neilshealthymeals.com October 4, 2021 at 9:36 AM - Reply

    I do love a good stew Mimi and prawns and tomatoes go together particularly well. Yum!

    • chef mimi October 9, 2021 at 4:54 PM - Reply

      They are a wonderful combination, but with the cilantro pesto it’s truly magical.

  17. 2pots2cook October 5, 2021 at 4:14 AM - Reply

    Thank you so much for introducing this cook book Mimi ! Pine nuts here as well ! :-) :-)

    • chef mimi October 9, 2021 at 4:54 PM - Reply

      This was fabulous. I can’t wait to make more recipes from this cookbook.

  18. StefanGourmet October 12, 2021 at 11:27 AM - Reply

    This looks interesting, I’ll have to try it. Dill is used a lot in the part of the world. So even though this is the first Palestinian recipe I’ve ever seen, it doesn’t surprise me there is dill in it.

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