5 November 2011

Prawn Patia and an unsuccessful Saag Bhajia.

I was really quite keen to try Anjum Anand's Prawn Patia recipe (from her book "I Love Curry").  My interest in the dish stems back to when I was courting my ex-fiance (some 34 years ago) and we would habitually go out for a curry on a Friday evening, after having spent some time in the local pub.

One such evening, said chap was feeling unusually generous and coughed up for a starter as well as a main course (we knew how to live, in those days!) and I indulged in a Prawn Patia on a chapati.

The memory of that dish - its colour and flavours - have obviously stayed with me ever since.  Which is more than can be said for the fiance, who blotted his copybook and got kicked to the kerb a very long time ago.

Hence, I was quite excited to find a recipe for Prawn Patia from such a trustworthy source.  I was ready for the end result to differ somewhat to the memory I had carried for so long, but as it turned out, it was remarkably close!

Which, as an aside, got me to thinking that a 34 year old English recipe almost certainly wouldn't taste similar these days!  It just goes to show how recipes handed down in other cultures have the ability to stay so close to their roots.  Mind you, I suppose a Roast Beef dish wouldn't be so different now to one roasted in Medieval times - provided we roasted it over wood, instead of in an electric oven.  Still, interesting, eh?

I will admit to getting a little bit frustrated with the recipe, as it seemed to involve a lot of creating a reduced sauce, then diluting it, then boiling to reduce it again - which seemed to be wasting an awful lot of time and energy.  However, in restrospect, if I had have measured the liquid accurately instead of by eye, I might not have experienced such a lot of "reducing the sauce".  (I couldn't find the measuring jug and didn't want to disturb hubby to come find it for me). I wound up with a sauce which was too watery, for two reasons.  One, because I needed to have more patience with the reducing of it and two, because the prawns I used were inferior and carried a lot of water.  Next time, I'll use the better type of prawns!  Can't guarantee having more patience, but I'll try, honest!

The flavours were lovely  - sweet, sour and spicy - and I can absolutely see how it would have been so close to the memory as to have been satisfyingly similar.

The Saag Bhajia, however, was a different story.  What I SHOULD have done, was take the recipe for the Saag Aloo and just left the potato out.  *sigh*  What I did, was find a different recipe, which sounded as though it would end in a Saag Bhajia that would be very like one from your local takeaway.  Wrong!

The end result was overcooked slimy spinach in a gritty mixture of spices that were way too hot for a bhajia.  Both hubby & son & heir tasted and immediately rejected their portions - and I could understand why.  I ate as much of mine as I could - after all, it was spinach and spinach is incredibly good on the Inflammation Factor scale, so I didn't want to lose that goodness.

I will have another go at the Patia, as on another (more comfortable) day and paired with a lovely saucy vegetable curry, it will be a completely different story.  As such, I recommend it to you - but be prepared to be patient with it!

PRAWN PATIA   Serves 3

Ingredients :

4 red chillies
4 tbsp sunflower oil
2 onions, chopped
3 large tomatoes, quartered
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground coriander
1½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp garam masala
salt to taste
2 tsp sugar
1½ tsp tamarind paste
400g raw prawns
handful fresh coriander, chopped.


1.   Heat the oil in a wok. Add onions and cook for 10-12 minutes until really brown.

2.  Place the tomatoes, garlic and chillies into a food processor and blitz until a paste.   (The tomatoes will make the paste more of a liquid than a paste, but ensure there are no big bits of ingredients left unblitzed).

3.  Add to the pan with the spices, salt & 350ml water.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring. The sauce will thicken and darken.

3.  Stir in the sugar, tamarind and a little more water if you think it needs it.  Bring to a boil until the sauce is very thick. Add the prawns and heat them through as quickly as possible, so as not to release too much juice into the sauce.  

4.  Taste and season and add more tamarind or sugar if required. Sprinkle with coriander.

Serve with a vegetable curry and steamed white rice.

Inflammation Factors (approx) for the Prawn Patia : 1786+ (595+ per person).


  1. Hi Jenny

    I love prawn patia. I will definitely be giving this recipe a try. I love your blog. Thanks for posting. :)

  2. Awww Dan! Thank you for those kind words. What a gent you are. :)


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