The spice trail : SPICY STIR-FRIED PRAWNS

Chemmeen Ularthiyathu is the original name of this dish, but that’s the only hard part about this recipe; pronouncing it! I know I don’t have any Indian recipes on the blog – not yet anyway – so I thought it was high time I filled that void. This spicy prawn stir-fry made with coconut oil and spices is my new found love. Served simply with a bowl of rice, it’s the ultimate 15-minute dinner meal with a lot of heft.

Indian cuisine as we know it is very regional and believe it or not, there actually is more to it than chicken tikka masala, jalfrezi and naan bread! Kerala is a state in the south-west region of India and owing to its close proximity to the coastline, fish and seafood are in abundance and form an integral part of their diet plan. My early memories of this tropical paradise include its palm-fringed shorelines, winding backwaters and the consumption of copious amounts of said seafood.

For the uninitiated, Keralan cuisine is characterized by the use of coconuts.. chopped into slivers and tossed in gravies, grated and mixed into side dishes, blended into coconut milk and used to flavour and thicken curries, this hairy guy plays an indispensable role in the food scene on the Malabar coast. So it’s a no-brainer that there’s some form of that here in this dish. I’ve used coconut oil, a tad bit in the end. A little goes a long way with this stuff so use it sparingly and taste as you go.

I’ve had this recipe tucked away and ready to post for almost a month now, but I realized I didn’t have a picture of it from the last time I made it..perfect excuse (if ever I needed one) to cook it again!

INGREDIENTS: (Serves 4)

Medium-sized prawns – 400 grams, peeled and de-veined

Shallots – 7, finely diced

Ginger – 1” piece (of about 1” width)

Garlic – 7 cloves

Coriander powder – 2 tsps

Chilli powder – 1 tsp

Freshly ground black pepper – ½ tsp

Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Tamarind pulp – 1 tsp (plus extra)

Vegetable oil – 2 tsps

Coconut oil – 2 ½ tsps

Salt


METHOD:

Blend the ginger and garlic with a teaspoon of water into a fine paste. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a pan and toss in the curry leaves and fry for a few seconds – they’ll splutter and crackle a bit. Add in the diced shallots and sauté until golden brown.

Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Put in the chilli powder, coriander powder, pepper, salt, and 1 teaspoon of tamarind pulp and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Tip the prawns in and cook until the water from the prawns evaporates completely, by which time they will be tender (taste and add more tamarind pulp at this stage). Pour in the coconut oil and toss through.

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