So the tales continue from The Two-Left-Spatulas Kitchen- and today I have for you a quick and easy recipe that can be mopped up with a nice naan or seeded loaf as well as effortlessly, with the addition of a glass of water, be transformed to a wonderfully delicate curry that makes a perfect meal with rice!
In India, this dish is equally popular in the South as it is in the North (that’s a vast cultural space for us!) I remember watching Rick Stein’s India series on Food Network and him actaully saying that this was one of his favourite curries during his time there. Jhinga Kadai, ie: Prawns made in a heavy bottom pan, or in fact, any Karahi or Kadai dish is one that requires a gentle browning of the spices and a quick flash-in-the-pan treatment of it’s ingredients! That’s something most of us time-poor folk could fall in love with. I love this recipe because I’m not a fan of a lot of curries, and my husband is- so in 15 minutes, I have the semi-dry prawn masala for myself and a prawn curry for my husband! (Again, in common Indian parlance, curries are recipes that have a runny, gravy’ish feel whilst as terminology such as semi-dry, masala or sukha mean a thicker constitution.)
Let’s get started, here’s what you’ll need :
Raw Prawns – 500 gm (Always use raw prawns, frozen are fine too. The cooked ones don’t really do well as they lack enough flavour to compete with the spices, so all one tastes is the spices…bit dull, if you ask me! )
- Oil or ghee-1tbsp
- Whole Mustard Seeds -1 tsp
- Whole Cumin Seeds-1tsp
- About 10 fresh curry leaves
- Ginger&Garlic Paste-1 level tbsp
- 3-4 dried red chillies (available at most British Supermarkets, they keep forever so don’t worry about them going out of date)
- Make a mix of 1/2 tsp each of red chilli powder, cumin powder, turmeric and coriander powder
- I tin of canned tomatoes ( I tend to prefer the Essential/Basics/Value range here as the tomatoes are tangy and best suited for Indian cooking. Better known companies tend to be a bit sweeter and probably better for Italian cooking!)
- Corriander…as much or as little as you prefer. I use about 2-3 tbsp chopped up
- Tamarind pulp -sold at Tesco and Sainsburys, but if you don’t have it or are uncomfortable about using/dealing with a wholly unfamiliar thing , you can comfortably substitute that with a one and a half tbsp of lemon juice!
- Heat a heavy bottomed pan, add the oil
- Add the whole dried red chilli, mustard and cumin
- After it’s lightly browned, follow with curry leaves and ginger garlic paste (this sputters for a few seconds, you have been warned! :))
- Make sure the heat is now lowered and none of the ingredients are burning.
- After that, add the mix of all the powdered spices mentioned earlier and fry till they don’t seem raw anymore.
After the spices have all had a while to cook and the flavours seem to have blended, add the can of tomatoes and finely chopped coriander, stems included..they’re quite flavoursome!
Cook this for about a minute or two till you can see the tomato is wholly been incorporated and is near bubbling in temperature…you should have something that looks like this :
Only at this juncture do we add the prawns as they really cook in 3-5 minutes and it’s a shame to overcook their subtle sweetness!
After they lose their transluscence, you know they’re done. At this final stage, add the tamarind pulp or lemon juice. It’s believed that the acid should be added right before the flame is put off and not boiled too much. Don’t ask me why, I haven’t a clue
Et voilà , your Jhinga Karahi (Prawn Masala) is ready to be served with naans, rotis, biryanis, pulaos, seeded rolls or some good ol’ sliced bread
A Twist on the Prawn Masala- -Prawn curry !
With one more step, you could take this to a whole new dimension
To the prawn masala, add two canfulls (the can of tomatoes you used earlier) of warm water and bring to a boil…of course, hold off the tamarind or lemon juice till the final moment before you take the dish off the heat! Let the whole dish infuse for about an hour before you serve it, you won’t believe the way the prawns intensify and absorb the flavours and aromatics of the spices. Trust me, this is so simple to do and so utterly delicious, you won’t be in a hurry to quit making it! You could use fish or any other shellfish if you prefer, though prawn is the official star of the dish!
TIP : If you or your friends find it hotter than desirable, you could always add a bit of coconut milk or dairy cream to mellow it down! Kerala cuisine actually has a version of this with cocunut milk in it, and Lucknow cuisine uses cream so you’re still serving an authentic, Indian meal! Enjoy it rather than endure it, that’s how we roll here…authenticity is lovely only if it’s palatable!
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