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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Confessions of a Herb Lover - Part 1

If anyone in my family loves meat, it's me. In anticipation of my bi-annual vacations at home, my father stocks up with the fridge with a few kilos each of chicken, mutton (pity they only sell lamb in London) and fish. Although I am a carnivore in the truest sense, I can't resist the sweet smell of coriander or the aroma of fried curry leaves. It was with some disappointment that I noticed that my neighbourhood Sainsbury's and Tesco were yet to come alive to this. Drummond Street alone provided some relief. Little relief, I should say - I only managed to get dry curry leaves. Not quite the real thing. And then I chanced upon the Tesco next to Kensington High Street. Wonder of wonders - there were hordes of fresh curry leaves, sold in packets. I was delirious with joy. Couldn't let go of this! I dreamt up a prawn curry, Kerala style, tomato rasam, tomato thokku, sambar, amongst others. Only the prawn curry has materialised so far. Blame it on a manic working week. The rasam and thokku shall arrive this weekend, when I get some time to plod around the kitchen. Until then, I've lovingly wrapped the curry leaves in tissue paper and laid them to rest in an old tiffin box in the fridge.

Anyway, here's the recipe for the prawn curry:

Prawns - 250 gm
Tamarind - small ball
Curry leaves - a handful
Methi seeds - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Thick coconut milk - 1 cup
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsbp
Onion, finely chopped - 1
Oil and salt- as needed

1. Heat oil. Add mustard and methi seeds. When they sputter, add the curry leaves, onions and ginger garlic paste. Once the onions have browned, add red chilli powder, turmeric and corainder powder. Meanwhile, add some hot water to the tamarind and extract the pulp.
2. Add the tamarind pulp to the pan alongwith the prawns. Once the prawns have cooked, add the coconut milk and salt to taste.
3. Serve with plain rice. I spiced things up with a little lime pickle on the side - I recommend it. I use Geeta's by the way - addictive stuff, but let that be the subject of another post.

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