Prawn Sukka is a traditional recipe from the Konkan coast, in India. It goes great with neer dosas (delicate rice crepes), or can be eaten with regular rice too. This restaurant-style recipe uses three kinds of chilies to give it, its’ fiery appeal. It’s inspired by the Prawn Sukka served at costal cuisine restaurants; the likes of Jai Hind and Highway Gomantak in Bombay and Mangalore Pearl in Bangalore.
Recipe: Fiery Prawn Sukka
- A food processor / blender
- A frying pan with a lid, preferably flat bottomed
- A small tempering pan (tadka pan), if you have one [you can do without this]
- 8 Byadgi/ Bedgi Chilies [dried red chilies, not too hot]
- 4 Gundu Chilies [small, ball shaped, dried red chilies – Quite Hot!]
- 1/2 tsp Methi Seeds [fenugreek seeds]
- 1 tsp Jeera Seeds [cumin seeds]
- 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 2 tsp Dhanya Seeds / Powder [Coriander seeds / powder]
- 3 tbs Coconut Oil
- 1.5 inch – long – piece Ginger [1 inch – finely chopped, and .5 inch cut into fine juliennes]
- 2 tsp Garlic [finely chopped]
- 1 Large Red Onion [finely chopped]
- 2 Large Tomatoes [finely chopped]
- 2 Green chilies [slit]
- 1 small piece (about 2 inches in length and width) Tamarind [soaked in 1/3rd cup of warm water]
- 250 gm Medium/Large Prawns
- 1/2 tsp Haldi Powder [turmeric powder]
- 10 – 12 Curry Leaves
- 1/3rd cup Coriander Leaves [roughly chopped]
- Salt [to taste]
- Wash and drain the pawns; wipe with a paper towel / clean cloth to ensure they are completely dry. Marinate them with a little salt and turmeric powder. The prawns do not need to marinate any longer than 10 mins.
- Roast the fenugreek, mustard and cumin seeds, dried red chilies and coriander seeds / powder on a low flame for 3 – 4 mins. They should change colour and give off a nutty roasted aroma1. Cool and grind to a fine powder2.
- Heat a couple of tbs of coconut oil in the same pan that was used to roast the spices; sauté ginger and garlic for about a min. Next, add finely chopped red onion and sauté till soft and translucent.
- Add finely chopped tomatoes, salt and slit green chilies to the pan; stir well, cover and allow to simmer until the tomatoes soften. Add the ground spice mix to the tomatoes, combine and simmer once again for about 3 – 4 mins until you see the oil separate from the cooked mixture. It should be a fairly dry paste at this point3.
- Next, add the softened tamarind pulp and water to the pan. Be careful to remove the seeds and fibers from the pulp first. Simmer for a minute until you have a wet mix once again4. Taste test, and season with more salt (if required) at this point. The salt and sour taste from the tamarind need to balance out.
- Add the prawns to the masala, stir, cover and allow to cook on low heat for 4 – 5 mins. You know the prawns are cooked through, when they change colour to a light pink and go completely opaque. Its important to cook them on a very low flame so that they remain soft; if overcooked, they could end up being rubbery in texture5.
- Turn off the heat and stir in a third of a cup of grated coconut. This will thicken the masala instantly5.
- The tempering6: this all-important step is a flavor booster! Heat 2 tsp of coconut oil in a small pan (a tadka pan, if you have one). When hot add the curry leaves and allow them to crackle and crisp up. Turn off the heat; pour the tempered curry leaves over the prawns and immediately cover with a lid so that the aroma of the curry leaves seeps into the dish. Keep covered for about 2 mins.
- The last and final step, is to garnish with chopped coriander leaves and julienned ginger. These finishing touches add a freshness that contrast the heavy spice really well!
1Pro-tip: if you are using coriander powder instead of whole coriander seeds, add them to the pan about 2 mins after the whole spices go in; they roast much quicker and could burn if left on too long.
Also realised, that I’ve used 4 – 5 pepper corns in the spice mix. Do this ONLY if you want EXtra heat 🌶🌶
2Here’s what your spice mix should look like once all ground up!
3&4Here are pictures of what the onion – tomato spice mix should look like once adequately cooked (a dry mix), and what it should look like after the tamarind extract has gone in (wet again).
5Its important to cook the prawns on a very low flame so that they remain soft; if overcooked, they could end up being rubbery in texture. Here’s a pic of the prawns when they are first added in and are slightly translucent, and after about 5 mins after when they are cooked through.
6If you aren’t able to grate the coconut, cut the flesh up into small pieces and blitz in the food processor for about 3 – 4 seconds at a time, opening and stirring between each blitz. This is what I usually do, but grated does have a softer lighter texture.
7Those all important curry leaves!
I really hope you enjoy this fiery hot delicacy! But please feel free to turn down the quantity of chilies, or de-seed them, if you prefer less heat.🖖