The cuisine in India varies from region to region. Most of the recipes that I adapt are from north India and north east India. However, my interest also lies in knowing the extensive repertoire of southern cuisine. My venture into southern cuisine is very minimal knowing only a little about their breakfast dishes and few other main dishes. My prawns with coconut and tomatoes is an adaptation from Kerala’s (India’s Southern State) famous Prawn Masala.
Few things in the recipe: you can use any kind of prawn for this recipe. Also the fresh coconut can be replaced with desiccated coconut. I could use coconut milk or cream for this but it does not give body to the curry. This curry is a thick curry; however if you wish, you can add a little coconut milk to loosen the masala.
For the Recipe:
Marinade about 250 grams prawns/ shrimps in the juice of 1 lemon. Set aside.
For the Masala:
2 medium onions sliced
3 dried red chilies
¼ inch quill cinnamon
½ tsp whole cumin
½ inch piece ginger
4 cloves of garlic
¼ cup fresh coconut chopped (in case fresh coconut is unavailable, use 2 tbsp desiccated coconut)
Heat a pan and dry roast (on low heat) all the ingredients except ginger garlic and onion. Once the aromas are released, set aside. In the same pan heat a little oil and fry the onion and coconut until the onions are golden brown and caramelized. Blend everything into a smooth paste. The spices turn into color of blush ready to be romanced with the prawns!
For the Curry:
4 ripe tomatoes chopped
3 tbsp oil
1 tsp each turmeric, cumin, coriander powder
1 tsp Mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
Salt and Sugar
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and add the curry leaves and mustard seeds. The seeds will start to pop and the leaves spit and splatter. There is nothing to worry; the oil is being infused with its entire flavor. Add the chopped tomatoes, throw in all the powdered spices, add a little salt and sugar, give it a good stir and cover. Let it be on a high heat as we want the tomatoes to be reduced to pulp. Notice when the oil starts separating, its an indication that we can add the prawns to it now.
Strain the prawns, give it a wash and add it to the pulpy tomatoes. You will notice that as soon as the prawns hit the hot pan, it changes color beautifully. Add the blended masala to the tomatoes. Let it bubble away for about 10minutes or until the curry comes together. We don’t want it to be watery and this is why we cook the masalas and try to amalgamate them.
It is best with fresh rotis or chappatis. Can also be eaten with Steamed rice or flour tortillas.