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Friday, July 17, 2009

Prawn Patia (Sweet, Hot and Sour Prawn Curry)

The following is taken directly from "50 Great Curries of India" by Camellia Panjabi.

The Parsees fled Persia about 1300 years ago and settled on the coast of Gujarat in India. Others who in recent centuries gradually arrived from Persia formed a small but distinct communities in Bombay and Dahanu, just to the north, where they are known as Iranis and cultivate fruit orchards of mangoes, chicoos (sapotas) and lychees. This patia recipe is an Irani one from Dahanu. The Parsees also have a version of patia.

A patia is a curry with sweet, hot and sour flavours equally balanced. Both Parsees and Iranis serve the patia on auspicious family occasions, along with yellow rice and lentils, calling it by its traditional name - dahn, dar or patio. The Irani patia is slightly spicier and hotter than the Parsee one. There are many chillis in this recipe but the heat is offset by the sour tamarind and the sugar.

Prawn Patia

450g shelled, uncooked prawns
1 1/2 teaspoons of tamarind pulp (we used about 4 teaspoons of pulp)
5 green chillis, chopped
3 plump garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
50ml oil (we used rice bran oil)
2 large onions, finely chopped (we used three onions)
1/2 teaspoons of cumin powder
3/4 teaspoon of coriander powder
3/4 teaspoon of red chilli powder
1 teaspoon of garam masala powder
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of jaggery (jaggery is palm sugar, we used about a tablespoon)
10 curry leaves
1/4 cup of coriander leaves (we used about half a cup)

Wash the prawns and devein.
Soak the tamarind pulp in 100ml of hot water for at least 30 minutes.
Grind the green chillies, two of the garlic cloves and the cumin seeds to a paste (a large mortar and pestle is best for this)
Heat the oil in a cooking pot and cook the onions slowly until deep pink/brown (you're not frying the onions you are very slowly browning them, this should take about an hour).
Add the ground paste and fry for two minutes then add the cumin, coriander, red chilli, garam masala and tumeric powders. Stir constantly for one minute then add the tomatoes and fry for a further five minutes.
Add the tamarind water (not the pulp), the jaggery, curry and coriander leaves and about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Add 150ml of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for five minutes and then add the prawns. Cook until the prawns are done, remembering that prawns cook very quickly, as soon as they turn pink they are done.
You should have a thick, non runny gravy and in India it is always served with moong dal.
Serve with cucumber and yoghurt raita, and papadums

Moong Dal

200g moong dal
2 large tomatoes chopped (we used a tin of chopped tomatoes, drained)
2 green chillis chopped (if the curry you are serving this with is a hot one you can leave out the chillis)
1" square piece of fresh ginger chopped
3 large garlic cloves
1/4 tsp tumeric powder
1 Tbs fresh coriander leaves chopped
6 fresh curry leaves
1 Tbs butter

Wash the dal well and then soak for 15 mins.
Bring 5 cups of water to the boil in a large pot. Add the dal with the tomatoes, chillies, ginger, 2 of the garlic cloves, minced and the tumeric powder. Return to the boil, then add salt. Cook partially covered (or the dal will splash every where) for 40 mins or until thick, like a runny porridge. Remove from the heat and whisk with an egg beater, until the grains of dal are completely mashed. Add coriander and curry leaves and cook a further 5 mins.
Heat the butter in a small frying pan, add the rest of the chopped garlic and fry until golden. Pour into the dal, which is now ready to serve. The consistency should be like thick soup.


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