Prawns in a Delicate Coconut Gravy

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I fear I'm not going to do justice to this entry cos I've a massive writer's block. Not that I'm much of a writer but still... This dish or rather curry is so beautiful, it's worthy of a poem. But I'm not a poet or any such fanciful creature. So I dutifully enter this recipe which is not really a recipe for this divine curry which I could slurp up probably everyday of my life. I'll have to think up a better name also for this dish.

My maid Jayashree is one of those natural cooks. She has what we would in Malayalam call 'kaipunyam'. Over the last 9 months I've come to trust her dishes blindly cos she has unfailingly delivered superlative dishes every single time. Everything right from a simple coconut chutney is so tasty, there is no wonder I resemble a fat pig now.

To cut down on my eating out tendencies, I figured, the easiest way would be if I were to make slightly fancier stuff at home that looking at uninteresting veggies everyday. So one day I got a packet of frozen prawns and asked Jayashree to make whatever she liked with it. I got a series of questions which I grandiosely waved away saying upto you.

In the end, what I got was this sublimely superior prawns in coconut gravy. She gave me her fluffy phulkas to go with them. But I decided I had to get rice noodles, soak them in this gravy and have it the South East Asian way. This despite her using none of the sauces or pastes we've come to associate with that region

The trick to this curry is to never let any of the ingredients even slightly brown or colour. They all have to be sweated to reveal their inherent flavours. Its a delicate curry, never overpowered with too much spice. Let your senses guide you. Your nose will probably sniff out the right time to add each ingredient and is probably better than your sight for this curry.


2tbsp  oil
1 sprig curry leaf
2 red onions sliced thin
6 green chillis split long.
8 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 inch ginger crushed
1/2 kg small prawns* shelled & deveined
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp garam masala
2 tomatoes sliced thin
100g coconut powder mixed in 100 ml water / one tetrapack coconut milk
1/8 cup loosely packed chopped coriander leaves to finish.

Heat oil in wok, add curry leaves and sweat gently. Cover the wok if required. Do not let it crisp.
Sweat onions till they become translucent but again do not let them brown
Add crushed garlic, ginger and chillis and stir till it doesn't smell raw but releases its slightly pungent aroma.
Add prawns and the powders and gently stir till the prawns just about start releasing its juices.
Add tomatos and mix till all the ingredients are uniformly distributed. Cover and let cook in its own juices.
When the prawns are cooked, stir in coconut milk and gently heat through.
Add coriander leaves towards the end before the final bubbling. Taste for seasoning

* I used tiny prawns. I'm always confused between the use of prawns & shrimps. So irrespective of terminology, I used tiny ones.

I was determined to have people over for this one. I served it over rice noodles with some chopped spring onions for that crunchy texture and a side of chopped bird's eye chillis in soy sauce. You can avoid the sides. I just added them on a whim. I loved it. So did my family. We're lovers of coconut milk and non overpowering curries. So this was right up our alley. But even otherwise, you should try it. It's going to be on my party menus for quite a while in the future now.

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