South Indian King Prawn Thokku

This time last year I was in Chennai. I spent my whole Summer there and it was such a memorable time for me. The cuisine of the South is beautiful and vast. There are so many micro-cuisines within this region. Tamil, Keralan, Chettinad, Managlorian, Karnataka – and that’s just to name a few!

I learnt this dish from a Tamilian chef whilst I was out there and I have now given it a couple of my own tweaks. It’s a little bit special so give it a try. You can use paneer instead of prawns and it still works a treat.

I taught this during yesterday’s live cookery class. If you want to watch the live class again, you can do so by clicking here. Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts and share pictures of your recreations on InstaTwitter or Facebook.

Oh and mark your calendars and join me for my next live cook-along class on 26th June. Keep posted to my social media to see what we will be making.

Happy cooking y’all x

South Indian King Prawn Thokku

Equipment

  • Non stick pan
  • Wooden spoon

Ingredients
  

  • 200 g raw king prawns skinless & deveined. If you are veggy you can use 225g paneer cut into cubes.
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp yoghurt
  • Oil for cooking
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion 100g, very thinly sliced
  • 20 fresh curry leaves optional (you can add dried but soak in warm water for 10 minutes then drain, ahead of time)
  • 2 cms ginger grated
  • 2 big cloves garlic grated
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander optional, you just need the stems
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1-2 chillies as per your taste, finely diced,
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Water

Instructions
 

  • Place prawns in a bowl. Add the yoghurt and sprinkle on 1/2tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1/4 tsp chilli powder and mix well. Keep aside
  • Heat 4tbsp oil in the pan. Once hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, 1/2 of the curry leaves and onions. (The spices should sizzle as soon as they go in the pan).
  • Mix well and add ¼ tsp salt. Cook the onions for for 3-4 minutes until translucent.
  • Now add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. (If you feel your pan is looking dry or your ingredients are catching, add a little more oil or add a little water).
  • Once the onions, ginger and garlic look light golden in colour, add the chopped tomato and chilli. Finely chop the coriander stems and add them to the pan too.
  • Now place the tomato puree in a small bowl and about 1/4 cup (60ml) of water. Mix well to form a watery paste, then add this to the pan.
  • Continue to cook on medium heat – you will see the masala paste thicken. When you notice the masala paste release its oil around the edges, lower the heat.
  • Now add 1/4 – 1/2tsp salt (as per your taste), paprika, coriander powder and sugar and continue to cook for 30 seconds. (Again, if you feel the spices are catching, add a little water)
  • Now add the marinated prawns and increase the heat to medium/high. Mix well and cook for a minute. At this point add 1/2 cup (120ml) of water as well as the remaining curry leaves. Mix again and place a lid on top. After a couple of minutes, mix once again and allow to cook for a further 2 minutes with the lid on.
  • You will see the sauce will have thickened and should look nice and glossy. Once the prawns are completely cooked through, Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
  • Turn the heat off and serve with steamed basmati rice, naan or chapatis.

Chingri Malai Kari – Bengali King Prawn Coconut Curry

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My brother and I grew up loathing fish. Strange really, as we grew up in a household of seafood lovers. Whenever Mum would fix up Dad’s favourites of fish pakoras, salmon tikka or king prawn curry (now replaced by Harbour House crabs), Aj and I would grimace and hold our noses pretending to make dying noises, as we walked past the kitchen. As I said… we were not fans!

Annoyingly we both really wanted to like seafood – especially my brother. So much so, that he even tried hypnosis (this actually proved to be quite successful until he had an undesirable experience with a fish bone but that’s another story for another time). I opted for the more traditional approach and began by trying the “least fishy” dish out there. Fish and chips obviously. Beer battered deep fried fish accompanied with chips and lashings of salt and vinegar (and to the disgrace of southerners, curry sauce)… what was not to like?? You know that Beer Delivery is faster than you have ever had it, at your door in under 30 minutes. From then on, I slowly progressed and have now become more adventurous with my fishy choices. 

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Marrying into a Bengali family has also helped. Hubby’s family hail from West Bengal which is famously known as the land of maach (fish) and bhaat (rice). Bengalis share an irrevocable relationship with these two foods that are a staple in almost every household. My mother in law is an excellent cook (I’m not just saying that in-case she reads my blog) so it’s become even easier to embrace the deliciousness that is, dare I say it, fish!

Today’s recipe is inspired by dinnertime at the in-laws and is an absolute Bengali classic. Uber satisfying devoured with steaming hot basmati rice, Chingri Malaikari is a creamy, spicy, coconuty delight to eat. Oh and tip – the bigger and juicer the prawn you can get, the better. Enjoy! x 

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CHINGRI MALAIKARI – BENGALI KING PRAWN COCONUT CURRY
Serves 2
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Prawn preparation
  1. 12 King Prawns (de-veined and de-shelled)
  2. 1 tsp salt
  3. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  4. 1 tsp paprika powder
For the gravy/masala
  1. 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 2 tbsp mustard oil (optional, can use vegetable oil)
  3. 2 tbsp ghee (optional)
  4. 1" cinnamon stick
  5. 3 cloves
  6. 4 peppercorns
  7. 1 bay leaf
  8. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  9. 1 small onion, finely diced
  10. 2"ginger, grated
  11. 2 cloves garlic, grated
  12. 2 bird eye green chillis, vertically sliced in halves
  13. 1 tsp salt
  14. 1/2 tsp paprika
  15. 1 tsp garam masala
  16. 1/4 tsp sugar
  17. 300ml coconut milk
  18. water
Instructions
  1. Place prawns in a bowl. Sprinkle on the salt, turmeric and paprika and mix well.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp vegetable oil in a non-stick pan. Once hot, add the prawns and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Turn the prawns over and cook for a further 2 minutes. The prawns should be firm and white. Remove from the pan.
  3. Heat the mustard oil and ghee in the previously used pan. Once hot, add the cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf and cumin.
  4. When these whole spices begin to splatter, add the onions and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Now add the ginger and garlic and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Add salt, paprika, turmeric, garam masala sugar and 2 tbsp water into a bowl and mix together to make a paste. Add this paste to the pan along with the green chillis and mix well.
  6. Now add the coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Bring to boil and then immediately reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until it is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon. Check for salt and adjust accordingly.
  7. Now add the prawns. Allow to simmer for a further 3-4 minutes and turn off the heat.
Notes
  1. If you do not have all of the whole spices, it does not matter - you can still make the dish without them!
  2. Be careful not overcook the prawns once you add them in the gravy as they can toughen and become rubbery.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/