I’m in love with Mediterranean food from all over the region and I’m passionate about cooking with all these fantastic, local ingredients we have at our disposal right here on the Island from the amazing “gambas” of Soller, the fruity olive oil to the succulent local lamb and crispy suckling pig. But even I occasionally need something different, something with a little spice and maybe something with a few chillies to wake up my aging taste buds. For me, that something different is normally a delicious home-cooked, hot spicy curry.
Apparently, it is possible to become addicted to curries and I can easily understand why. They arouse and stimulate the senses and provide a natural high. The liberal use of spices leads to the body’s release of endorphins and combined with the complex sensory reaction to the variety of spices and flavours, a natural high is achieved that causes subsequent cravings, often followed by addiction and a desire to move on to hotter curries.
The term curry derives from kari, a Tamil word meaning sauce and referring to various kinds of dishes common in South India made with vegetables or meat and usually eaten with rice. Anything can basically be made into a curry and spices do not necessary have to be added to it. There is a common misconception that all curries are made from curry powder but there are literally hundreds of types of curries from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia through to Thailand and right into the Caribbean and every single one is slightly different in some way.
This month’s recipe is a firm favourite of mine. It’s an aromatic, lightly spiced prawn curry from the Malabar Coast in southern India. It’s flavoured with tamarind and coconut milk and its quick and easy to prepare. But be careful…it’s totally delicious and can easily become addictive.
Malabar Prawn curry
Cooking time: 30 mins
Prep time: 25 mins
Ingredients serves 4
600g large raw tiger prawns, peeled
4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
3tbsp olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 small green chilli, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
200ml coconut cream
200ml coconut milk
Juice of one lemon
1tbsp palm sugar (or soft brown sugar)
50ml tamarind puree
Malabar spice mix
1/2tsp black mustard seeds
12 dried curry leaves
½ tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
½ tsp coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Add all the ingredients to the spice grinder and pulse until coarsely crushed.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or wok, and then add the onions, chilli, ginger and garlic. Cook over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes, and then add the Malabar spice mix. Cook the spices for a minute or two and add the tomatoes, coconut cream and milk. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice, tamarind puree, palm sugar and a pinch of salt. Blend the sauce with a hand blender and add the prawns. Cook for 2-3minutes and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh coriander sprigs and serve with steamed rice.