With so many good curry houses near us (the Millenium Tandoori which was voted Britain’s Best Takeaway last month springs to mind) it’s tempting to be lazy and just order in and we sometimes do, butI love making a nice big pot at home, too – because that means lots of leftover and curry is always nicer the next day.This week I resisted the temptation to make far too many dishes and just stuck to this southern Indian style king prawn curry, plain basmati rice and Michael’s all time favourite Indian vegetable dish, bhindi bhaji. I also quickly knocked up some chilli salt watermelon as a cooling side dish – it’s hardly a recipe so I won’t bother writing it up. It’s just a case of cutting some watermelon up into chunks and sprinkling chilli flakes and sea salt on it. It may sound odd at first but it’s really refreshing and can be eaten with a G&T while you wait for your curry to cook or on the side serving the same sort of purpose as a dish of yogurt with a spicy dish (easy on the chilli flakes I guess if you’re using it in that capacity)
This recipe uses three types of chilli; fresh green ‘birds eye’ chillis, chilli powder and Guntar Sannam Chilli from southern India. The reason for this is to give the finished dish a heat which is layered and hits you at different points as a opposed to the sort of curry heat that just grabs you by the throat (literally) and hurts. It’s hard to judge what one person deems as hot compared to another but the point of a recipe which includes heat is to adjust to your own tastes. I would also say if you don’t have three types of chilli in the house, don’t let that stop you making the curry. Adapt, adapt, adapt is the key to all recipes.
Most of the ingredients in this are easily found except perhaps the wet tamarind. I get it from any of the many Indian groceries in London and I suspect if you have an Indian restaurant near you then the ingredients for them can’t be that far away! If you can’t find any though you can try substituting something that does the same job, which is to add a sort of fruity, tangy sourness – maybe some lime juice or at a push some cider.
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
Oil for frying
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
Thumb-sized piece of ginger
1/2 bunch coriander
1 carton passata
I tbsp wet tamarind soaked in a 1/4 cup hot water and seeds removed
I whole dried Guntar Sannam Chilli (or 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes)
1/4 tsp hot chilli powder
4 green birsdeye chillis
1/2 tsp each turmeric, ground cumin and ground coriander
1 tin coconut milk
24 king prawns
Pour a couple of tablespoons of oil into a large heavy-based pan and put the seeds in. Cook them over a medium heat until you hear them begin to pop. Remove from the heat and blend the following ingredients in a blender: onion, garlic, ginger, half the coriander, a few tablespoons of the passata. Pour them into the pan and place it over a low to medium heat and add the dry spices. Cook it through slowly (spices burn easily), stirring all the while. Add the rest of the passata, the coconut milk, the sliced green chillis and the salt and allow to cook for about five minutes to marry the flavours. At this point decide if it’s about the right thickness for you as a sauce. You may want to cook it down a bit because it’s too thin or add more liquid because it’s too thick. Once you’re happy with the consistency, put your prawns in a cook until they are just pink. This will take under five minutes. Be careful not to overcook them because overcooked prawns are just tough and fibrous, which such a waste of money. You can also use the same sauce for thinly sliced chicken or Quorn if you’d prefer. Finally, sprinkle on the remaining coriander and serve with chosen side dishes.