22 February 2013

Hot Punjabi King Prawn Curry - and it is hot, too!

Sometimes, a recipe just works so well and is so tasty, that it needs to be blogged ahead of the queue.  This is one such.

I found this recipe in the latest BBC Good Food magazine and you can find the original recipe - which deals with raw King Prawns as opposed to cooked King Prawns - if you click here.  The recipe apparently comes from a lady called Jagdish Kaur who hails from the Punjab'n de Rasoi cafe in Edinburgh.  I liked the recipe as it looked awfully easy to make (which is always a good thing) and had interestingly few ingredients.  So many curry recipes have ingredient lists as long as your two arms, that it was intriguing to find one working along such minimalist lines.

I won't deny that the notion of using three live chillis and some dried chilli flakes caused several ominous gyrations of my stomach, but the "Taste Team Comment" indicated that the heat was agreeable.  However, in the interest of self preservation I changed one of the chillis to a milder red version and removed all the seeds from it.

I also included a little fish stock - in my case, the lovely Essential Cuisine fish stock and have reflected these changes in the recipe below.  I think that adding just water to a recipe is often missing a golden opportunity to inject a little more flavour.  I accept that, in some curry recipes, the addition of stock would be inconsistent with the integrity of the style.  However, in this instance it worked very well.

In fact, we very nearly didn't have the curry at all.  I completely forgot about marinating the prawns on the night before and again first thing the next morning.  Even worse, we had a breakdown in communications and only got one bag of prawns out of the freezer, needing to defrost the remaining pack at the last minute, in a sieve, under the tap!  So, it may be worth bearing in mind that the marination of my prawns only took place for around a half an hour!  Oops!

The actual cooking of the recipe lived up to my expectation and was easy peasy.  I think it took longer to chop up the onions, tomatoes and coriander, than it took to do the cooking.

One cook's note that is worth bearing in mind, is that once the water is added it is worthwhile cooking the sauce until all the water has evaporated and the sauce is really thick - which is contrary to how the original recipe goes.  The reason for this is because as soon as you add the yoghurt and prawns, the yoghurt is going to melt to a certain degree and - no matter how well you've dried the prawns - they're going to release moisture.  If you haven't reduced the sauce to begin with, you're going to land up with a really dilute sauce which if you then try to reduce, you'll end up with rubbery prawns and split yoghurt.  Not good!  So make sure your sauce is reduced as far as it can go, before you add the marinated prawns.

Very definitely a hit with the family, I'll be making this again - perhaps with chicken next time.  Hubby declared it the best curry he'd had in many a long year (which is enormous praise, especially considering he was concerned about it turning to "pond water").  Son and heir didn't say anything, just sat stolidly moving his spoon from plate to mouth until it was all gone.  I think he liked it.  For me, I loved the flavours that were bright and fresh - and although the chilli effect made my nose run and the tip of my tongue hurt, I'd have it again tomorrow - and you don't get to say that about every recipe you make!


Ingredients :

For the marinade

600g cooked, peeled king prawns
6 tbsp full fat natural yoghurt
2 green chillies, finely sliced, with seeds
half a tsp of sea salt. 

For the curry

2 tbsp sunflower oil plus 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
half a tsp of cumin seeds
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 red chilli, finely sliced
2 tsp Garam masala
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
half a tsp of sea salt
half a tsp of fish stock powder, or half a fish stock cube
half a tsp of dried red chilli flakes
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped.

Method :

1. For the marinade: Rinse and drain the prawns.  Pat them dry and put into a non-reactive bowl.  Add the yogurt, chillies and ½ teaspoon of salt.  Mix well, cover and marinate overnight in the fridge.

2. For the curry: Pour the oil into a deep sided wok or frying pan and set it over a medium heat.

3. Once the oil is hot, spoon in the cumin seeds, swirl and brown for 10 seconds.  Add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, or until golden all over.

4. Add the garlic, reduce the heat to low and stir and fry for 2 minutes.  Mix in the turmeric and stir for 1 minute.

5. Add the red chilli, increase the heat to medium and stir for 1 minute.  Mix in 1½ teaspoons of the Garam masala and stir for 1 minute.

6. Add all of the tomatoes, a pinch of sea salt and the chilli flakes.  Cook until the tomatoes have broken down, then add 120ml boiling water and the fish stock powder or cube.  Stir to combine.  Allow the curry to boil and reduce until all the extra liquid has gone and the sauce is really thick.

7. Stir in the prawns and their marinade plus the chopped coriander and cook over a high heat until they are heated through.

8. Sprinkle the remaining Garam masala over the top and stir.


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