A spicy dish based on coconut milk, chillies and spices, the flavors of this curry will be familiar to those who have experienced Sri Lankan and South Indian food.
Serves 6 with steamed rice
- 1 kg (2 lb) raw prawns in their shells
- 6 large dried red chillies
- 2 medium-sized onions, chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons oil
- a sprig of fresh curry leaves or 12 dried leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 stem lemongrass, bruised
- 1 strip pandan leaf, about 10 cm (4 in) long
- 1 x 400 ml (13 fl oz) can coconut milk
- lemon juice to taste
Wash the prawns and remove the hard shell from head but leave the legs and body shell on. In Sri Lanka and India, prawns are often cooked in their shells for better flavor. Soak the chillies in hot water for 15 minutes, then put into a blender with some of the soaking water and the onions, garlic and ginger. Blend to a pure.
Heat the oil and fry the curry leaves for 30 seconds, then add the pured mixture and the ground spices. Fry, stirring, until the mixture develops a good aroma. Add the salt, lemongrass, pandan leaf and coconut milk and stir while bringing to a slow boil. Do not cover. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the prawns and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes longer or until the prawns are cooked. Taste and add lemon juice to give a piquant flavor.