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Food Adventures of the Bawi Bride

Passport & Plate - Dolly Mamaiji's Prawn Curry

India | Thursday, 5 March 2015 | 5 photos


Ingredients
To make enough for six you will need:

For the curry masala
1/2 fresh coconut chopped into pieces
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. white sesame seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. coriander seeds
50 gm. raw peanuts
30 gm. chopped cashews
10 cloves of garlic
15 dried Kashmiri chilies
3 small tomatoes chopped

For the prawn marinade
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. red chilly powder
½ tsp. salt

For the curry
350 gms of prawns shelled and de-veined but with tails on
2 tbsp. wheat flour
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. red chilly powder
1 tsp. curry powder
Salt to taste
2 large potatoes quartered

3 cups steamed rice
1 lemon quartered
Salad of finely sliced onions, chopped tomatoes and coriander

 

How to prepare this recipe
• Before you make the curry masala dry roast all the seeds, peanuts and cashews until their aroma starts wafting in the kitchen
• Now, blend the seed mixture along with the coconut, garlic, chilies and tomatoes adding water as needed to make a thick paste. Keep grinding until you have a fine paste
• Next, marinate about the prawns with turmeric and red chilly powder and set aside for half an hour
• Once this is all ready, in a crockpot add some oil and fry the wheat flour making sure no lumps remain. Add in the curry masala and sauté for about five minutes until the wheat flour is mixed well into the masala and the masala no longer sticks to the sides of the crockpot
• Next, add in the turmeric, red chilly and curry powder along with water into the crockpot to get the curry to the right consistency – you want the curry to be thick enough to sit on top of rice and not too watery
• Add in the potatoes and let the curry simmer for 15 minutes on medium heat until the potatoes are almost cooked
• Add the prawns and cook for a further 6 – 8 minutes until the prawns are cooked
• Serve hot with steamed rice, juice of a freshly squeezed lemon and the onion salad

 

The story behind this recipe
While I learnt cooking when I was about ten, I learnt to eat, and importantly, to enjoy food much earlier. At four years old to be precise. My memory fails me, but mum says she has never seen a child eat the way I used to – slowly, with eyes closed, relishing each bite to the fullest.

The family tale goes that mum first noticed me doing this when I was served a bowl of my Mamaiji’s (maternal grandmother) Prawn Curry Rice. Mamaiji was so ecstatic with my reaction, that from that moment on until the time I moved cities at 11 whenever I visited Mamaiji the first dish that would be made was her signature Prawn Red Curry and Rice.

In fact, I loved it so much, that once when I was sitting on her lap and she asked me what I wanted were she ever to pass away; I innocently told her that all I really wanted was a big never-ending bowl of her curry that I could always have and remember her by. Mamaiji passed away a few years ago and I was distraught. I realized that I never got around to learning her curry and that I no longer had anything special of hers that I could treasure.

A few months later, when trawling through old books, my mum and me came across a tattered diary filled with scribbles of recipes and names of suppliers that offered the best produce in Bombay. In it was a page titled ‘Curry Recipe for my Dear Grand-Daughter’. We set aside the other mess and immediately headed to the kitchen to try out the recipe.

The curry came out just as I remembered Mamaiji making it. In that minute, I was transported back to my childhood - me licking my fingers clean while she smiled proudly at me, her peculiar ‘Eau de Mamaiji’ all pervading.

Home-cooked food is special, not just for the taste but for the story each dish weaves around it. Most people can make a decent curry but for me Mamaiji’s Curry is the only way that curry should be cooked. And each time I share this recipe; I hope that another daughter feels more connected to her roots, one curry bowl at a time.

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