I love this curry, it is simple to make & really satisfying. It goes really well with some rice & the green beans I posted last week or just add some steamed vegetables to it.
I have always loved the food of northern India which is what we mainly eat in the UK but on a recent trip to the south I found a new set of fabulous flavours. The climate is hot & the local ingredients are quite different to the north. Lots of spices are grown in the south and there are huge spice plantations. You can read about my visit to one Spice Plantation here. Ginger is grown in the mountains and is used liberally in both the food & chai. This recipe has lots of ginger & I like to have it in larger pieces than normal so that the flavour really hits.
Southern food also uses lots of coconut, tamarind, mustard seeds & curry leaves. You can add all of those to this curry but I wanted to have a simple, fast recipe to make on nights when time is short & there is not much in the fridge. There is just a couple of minutes of chopping & no preparation of spices. I almost always have a bag of prawns in the freezer & they defrost quickly so this is a super convenient meal.
The flavour is tangy from tamarind with lots of ginger & some coconut milk for richness. It is based on a Nigella recipe for fish curry that I have been cooking for years. I simplified it to make the preparation quick & easy (not even any garlic to peel) – the hardest thing is chopping the ginger. Using fish stock is not traditional but it amps up the flavour with minimal effort.
It is important to balance the flavours so make sure to play around with the chilli level, tamarind, sugar & salt before adding the prawns. You can make the sauce ahead of time & then just heat it up & add the prawns at dinner time. The domestic Gods/Goddesses among you can also make extra & freeze the sauce for a super quick dinner another time.
The sauce is actually quite versatile so add any seafood you like. You could also add meat or vegetable stock & appropriate accompaniments. I like this with chicken breast. The most important things are lots of ginger, tamarind & coconut. You can garnish it with fresh coriander, toasted coconut or roasted cashews.
A note about tamarind
I find there is a massive difference between brands of tamarind concentrate. The one I used for this recipe is thick & dark, like molasses. It is very powerful & so not much is needed. Most brands are weaker in flavour and so you will need to add more. If it is light brown then add 2-3 teaspoons or maybe more. My advice would be to add it slowly if unsure as you can always add more but you can’t take it out. It should give a lovely sour note to the curry. If you feel you have added too much try a little sugar. If it is getting too sweet for your taste add more coconut.
Keralan Prawn Curry
Ingredients (Serves 2):
400g Prawns (shell off)
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion
2″ fresh ginger
Chilli to your taste. I use a whole fresh red chilli & a pinch of cayenne as I like a kick to it
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp tamarind concentrate (see note above)
200ml strong fish stock (I use dashi powder & add twice the amount for the volume of water as it needs to flavour the coconut milk as well)
salt & sugar to taste
1. Mix 1 tsp of turmeric with the prawns (or whatever seafood/meat you are using) & set them aside
2. Finely slice the onion & start to fry it gently in the coconut oil with a tiny pinch of salt. The onions should not go brown, just soften.
3. Slice the ginger into pieces the size of a matchstick. Add them to the onions once they are soft.
4. Fry the ginger for 3-4 minutes on a medium heat & as it starts to soften add the fresh chilli if you are using it. Fry for another minute then increase the heat to high & let the oil really sizzle.
5. Add the cumin seeds & let them get brown and then add a small splash of water to stop the spices burning. Add 1 tsp turmeric & any dried chilli.
6. Mix up your fish stock & taste it to make sure it is strong. Add the tamarind & coconut milk & mix them all together really well. Add to the onions & spices.
7. Bring the sauce up to the boil & let it bubble away for a few minutes then try the flavours. It might need salt & if the tamarind is too strong try adding some sugar. If it seems too runny just let it boil a little longer to thicken up. Get the flavour to your liking & then add the prawns just before you are ready to eat.