Chettinad, a region in Tamil Nadu state of South India, is synonymous with hyper-spicy and aromatic food laced with well-balanced flavors. If there’s any cuisine that celebrates spices with utmost devotion, it’s this cuisine. The fiery flavors come largely from the use of red chilies and black peppers. Variety of spices are roasted and freshly ground, which adds to the sharpness of any dish.
Chettinad cuisine isn’t for the faint-hearted or rather, faint-gutted. You either have a really strong gut or a really close loo. Because the flavors are so lip-smacking, you are bound to keep going for seconds.
Preparation time:15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
A. For marinating prawns:
Prawns, cleaned and deveined – 500 gms (It’s always good to stock your refrigerator with a packet of frozen prawns. Saves a great deal of time.)
Kashmiri chili powder – 2 tsps
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
B. Ground spice mix:
Dry red chilies – 3
Black pepper corns – 7
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Cloves – 4
Cardamom – 4
Cinnamon – small piece
Mace – small piece
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp
Poppy seeds – 1 tsp
C. For the curry:
2 medium size onions – thinly sliced
2 green chilies – slit
2 medium size tomatoes – finely chopped
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Ginger-garlic paste – 11/2 tsp
Kashmiri chili powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Ground spice powder – 2 tsp
Tamarind pulp – 1 tbsp
Oil for frying
Salt as per taste
Water as per desired consistency
1. Marinate the prawns in chili powder, turmeric powder and salt and let it sit aside.
2. Dry roast all the spices on low flame till aromatic. Be careful not to burn.
3. Set aside to cool and then grind to fine powder.
4. Heat oil in a heavy bottom. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter.
5. Add curry leaves and fry a bit.
6. Toss in the onions and green chilies and fry till the onions are soft and translucent.
7. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute or until the raw smell of ginger goes away.
8. Now add the spice powders – kashmiri chili, turmeric, coriander and the ground spice mix. Fry on medium till aromatic.
9. Now add the chopped tomatoes and tamarind pulp and saute till oil starts separating at the sides.
10. Tumble in the prawns and mix well.
11. Lastly, add water as per your desired consistency and check for the seasoning. Add more salt if required.
12. Bring it to boil. Then let it simmer on low for around 5 minutes or until the gravy becomes thick.
13. Garnish with curry leaves and serve hot with steamed rice, appams or neer dosa.