I’m suddenly gripped by this burst of energy and I’m all ready to rock and roll. Don’t ask why. Nah, it’s okay. This one seems like a no-brainer, but, seriously, I’m happy. I’m happy to be doing something I like. Life never fails to surprise us, huh. Oh yeah. When I had a full time job and a live-in housekeeper, cooking was an activity I used to indulge in only during the weekends or when I was entertaining. Now, I’m cooking a ton, photographing my way to happiness, sharing it with y’all and making new memories. Ah!
Okay, back to the subject matter. Chemmeen Ularthiyathu or prawns cooked in tangy masala is yet another Syrian Christian delicacy. The seafood is stewed in kokum broth in an earthern pot or manchatti. Kokum (Garcinia indica) is a berry-like fruit the size of a small orange, used as a souring agent in fish curries. In Malayalam, it is known as kudam puli. I simply love this dish for the exotic combination of the crunchy coconut pieces with the flavored prawns. To me, it’s something comforting; at the same time it tastes incredible.
Prawns in Tangy Masala - Chemmeen Ularthiyathu
500g prawns, peeled and deveined
2 ½ tablespoon coconut pieces cut into ½ inch long, thin pieces
3 cloves garlic, slit lengthwise
½ inch ginger, crushed
2 tablespoon onion, finely sliced
1 ½ teaspoon kashmiri chili powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Kokum, 3 pieces
1 cup water
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt, to taste
1 ½ tablespoon oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/3 cup onion, chopped; or shallots, finely sliced
2 sprig curry leaves
Soak the kokum in some water for 10 minutes, to make it soft.
Put the prawns, coconut pieces, garlic, ginger, onion, chili powder, turmeric powder, curry leaves and water in a manchatti ( earthern vessel) or heavy based pan, and mix well using your fingers. Tip in the kokum along with the water used for soaking. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, and cook until all the stock is absorbed and the prawns are tender and coated in the masala, about 4-6 minutes. Note that the cooking time will vary according to size, and remember that overcooking will make the flesh tough. Remove from heat.
In a deep nonstick pan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add mustard and cook until seeds crackle, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle curry leaves and onion, and cook, stirring, until onions turn golden brown. Now add the cooked masala prawns to this and sauté for 3 minutes. Splash in some water if it starts to catch. Remove from heat and serve hot with steamed rice.