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Maharastran Prawn Recipe

Here's an unusual prawn recipe, it seems to have almost no spices in it, yet it tastes really flavoursome, hot and tangy but mellowed by the coconut. It is my take on a dish called kolumbi tse kalvan which I have seen in a few books.

When I was in Poona, I had several fish dishes like this; flavoured with garlic, ginger and tamarind rather than the usual spices. Maharashtra is about half way up India and extends from West coast inland, almost bisecting the country. Mumbai (Bombay) is the capital lying on the coast, Poona (Pune) is more inland but seafood is still fairly abundant.

I love seafood and, other than prawns it is much neglected in 'curryland' so I am always on the lookout for good fish recipes. Although I use this as a prawn recipe, it can also be done with all sorts of fish which I have done from time to time.

Basic Ingredients

1lb (225gm) peeled prawns
1 small potato
3 cloves garlic
1 inch (1cm) root ginger
Tamarind paste
Fresh Chilli
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
cup coconut milk
A handful of coriander leaves
Oil for cooking

teaspoon turmeric
teaspoon fennel seeds

Notes on Ingredients

Prawns. If you are using fresh prawns then you will need to peel and devein them; I'm usually pretty lazy about this and use peeled, cooked prawns for most of my prawn recipes. Also you can use other fish provided that is doesn't break up easily - monkfish is perfect.

Potato. This is optional and is the dish is good with or without. It adds a little body to the dish.

Tamarind. You can buy this as paste which is very thick, add 1 teaspoon of paste to a tablespoon of hot water. I always buy it in blocks. Break about a square inch or so off the block and soak in a cup with boiling water, the pulp and the liquid can then be sieved off leaving just the stones.

Chilli. I use 1 scotch bonnet or 2 'standard' green chillis, this has some heat but is not fearsome. You can use more or less as you wish. Also with the chilli powder.

Coconut milk. Use from a can, make your own with desiccated coconut or use a sachet of creamed coconut with hot water.

Oil. I use coconut oil in this if I have it, but ghee or mustard oil are both good.

Basic Method

Prepare the prawns if they are fresh.
Peel the potatoes, cut into small dice and boil or steam them until soft.
Peel the garlic and mash
Peel the ginger and cut into very small dice or grate it.
Finely chop the fresh chilli
Prepare the coconut milk and tamarind

Put the tamarind paste, half the mashed garlic, the salt, turmeric and chilli powder in a bowl with the prawns mix and set aside
Heat the oil then drop in the fennel seeds and fry these till they start popping
Add the remaining garlic and the ginger
When the garlic begins to brown, pour in the prawns with the marinade
Add the potatoes and the chilli, and cook for a few minutes
Add the coconut milk, and when just boiling, turn down to simmer for just a few minutes.
Mix in the coriander leaves and serve

Notes on Method

This really is a pretty simple and quick prawn recipe. The only thing to be careful of is the amount of liquid. Use a minimum amount possible when making the tamarind paste and the coconut milk (not a problem if you use from a can). You can always add more if you think it is too dry.

You can eat this prawn recipe with plain rice or some Indian bread. Other good accompaniments are some vegetable dish - maybe some masoor daal or okra and chickpeas.

This is quite a rich dish so the quantities here, with rice or bread should serve 4 adults easily.

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