Chettinad Prawn Curry

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
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
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

Method:
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.

Advertisements

Bangda Recheado Fry – Crisp Fried Stuffed Mackerel

Mackerel or Bangda in Marathi hits the perfect spot when it comes to nutrition. This gorgeous steely-blue fish is loaded with proteins, B vitamins and is a top notch source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

I usually fry this fish by applying the marinade only on the outside. This time I went all Goan by doing the recheado.
Now, recheado is frequently mistaken as the spice paste used for marinating the fish. But, it actually is the Portuguese word for Stuffing 🙂

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Marination time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
4 medium size Mackerels
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
6 tbsp red chili powder / kashmiri chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 cumin powder
4-5 black pepper corns
1 inch cinnamon stick
5 cloves
4-5 fenugreek (methi) seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp Sugar
3 – 4 tbsp vinegar
Chickpea flour or Besan for coating
Salt as per taste
Oil for frying

Method:
1. Slit the fish lengthwise on the narrower side, but don’t cut it into two.
2. Marinate with salt and turmeric powder and leave it aside for 10 minutes.
3. Grind all the other ingredients together into a smooth paste – chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, ginger-garlic paste, pepper corns, cinnamon, fenugreek seeds, cloves, mustard seeds, vinegar, sugar and salt.
4. Rub this spice paste equally on to the surface and then stuff it within the slit.
5. Again, leave it aside for 15 minutes, so the fish absorbs all the flavors.
6. Heat some oil in a fry pan.
7. Sprinkle the chickpea flour equally on both the sides of the fish.
8. Fry the fish on medium flame, about 2 minutes each side, till brown and crisp.
9. Drain the excess oil on an absorbent paper.
10. Serve hot with rice and curry.

P.S.:
1. You can use lemon juice or tamarind paste as an alternative to vinegar.
2. Vinegar has a very strong tangy flavor. So don’t go overboard, else it will dominate all the wonderful flavors other spices impart.
3. Fish can also be coated in semolina or rice flour.
4. Sprinkling the flour prevents wastage of the flour and the spices while frying.
5. Being patient with marination goes a long way in making the fish more flavorful.
6. It’s best to fry the fish when you are ready to serve.
7. If you’ve fried it before hand, instead of warming it up in a microwave, heat a skillet/ fry pan/ grill pan and warm it up on medium flame for few seconds each side. You don’t have to add oil here. This will not just warm up the fish but also retain its crispness.