A quick, delicious Kerala recipe of juicy prawns fried until crispy in coconut oil, marinated in a fragrant blend of grated coconut, coriander leaves, cumin, Malabar peppercorns, and fiery red chilies, enhanced by tangy tamarind.
- 350g-400g / about 20 pieces medium-large prawns, cleaned deveined (without shell)
- a 1½ inch ball of tamarind pulp
- 1/4 cup water
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder, ground or to taste
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili, ground
- 1 dry red chili
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 green chili
- 1” piece of ginger, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- ½ cup grated coconut
- ½ cup coriander leaves
- 6-7 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- Soak tamarind in ¼ cup water. Keep aside while preparing paste for marinating prawns.
- Rub prawns with salt, turmeric, ground chili, and ground Kashmiri chili.
- To prepare the paste, dry grind red chili, peppercorns, and cumin to very coarse ground. Add green chili, ginger, garlic, coconut, and fresh coriander leaves. Grind to a coarse paste.
- Apply this paste to prawns and allow prawns to marinate 2-3 hours.
- Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat, add shallots until the bits start changing color to a golden brown (2-3 minutes).
- Add prawns and fry, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes until prawns change color and are cooked through.
- Using your finger, rub tamarind pieces in water. Strain the tamarind pulp and water through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer using a spatula. You should have a thin paste. Add paste to prawns in pan.
- Lower heat to simmer, and stir for 2-3 minutes until tamarind paste is absorbed. Remove prawns to serving bowl.
- Heat remaining oil in a small pan until hot, add curry leaves and fry until slightly crisp. Pour oil and leave on prawns.
- Serve hot with rice or Indian bread of your choice.
If you do not have ground Kashmiri chili, substitute the 1 teaspoon with ¼ teaspoon chili ground and 1½ teaspoons paprika. If you don’t have both ginger and garlic, use at least one of the two. If tamarind is not available, leave it out, as it is more for flavor than acidity. Instead, add a squeeze of lime on the cooked prawns. The curry leaves are a critical flavor, but the dish will taste good even without them. Coconut oil also gives the dish flavor, but if you don’t have it, substitute any vegetable oil.