Prawns baked with haloumi in a claypot

Prawns baked with haloumi in a claypot

New Middle Eastern Food
4 as a starter or 8 as part of a mezzese lection
Mark Roper

Traditional güveç dishes are cooked in little earthenware pots buried in the ashes of an open fire or barbecue. Different herbs are used depending on the region, and along the shores of the mediterranean the wild basil that grows in profusion adds a lovely spicy note. You could also use dill, parsley or oregano with success. The combination of prawns and melted cheese makes this dish rather rich. It would make a light supper or lunch for four people, with a salad of bitter green leaves and plenty of crusty bread to mop up the sauce and melted cheese. You could also serve it as part of a mezze selection for eight people.


Quantity Ingredient
8 raw king prawns, peeled, (heads and tails removed)
40g unsalted butter
1 small purple onion, diced
1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red banana pepper, seeded and cut into 1 mm dice
1 long red chilli, seeded and shredded
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, roasted and lightly crushed
pinch saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
few strips lemon zest
sea salt
2 teaspoons pekmez
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup roughly torn basil leaves
extra-virgin olive oil
40g haloumi, washed and finely grated
salad and crusty bread, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Use a sharp knife to butterfly the prawns and carefully pull away the intestinal tracts.
  2. Melt the butter gently in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, pepper, chilli, spices and zest and season lightly with salt. Sauté over a low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft. Add the pekmez and cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and bring to a gentle boil. Gently add the prawns and basil to the sauce, then tip it all into a heavy-based casserole dish, or an earthenware pot if you have one. Sprinkle with oil, then scatter on the haloumi and bake in the oven for 3–5 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and brown.
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