Mangalorean prawn ghassi 

500g raw prawns (shrimps), shelled and deveined but tails left on
½ tsp ground turmeric, plus more for the prawns 
3-4 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil 
1 rounded tbsp coriander seeds 
Good pinch of fenugreek seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
15 black peppercorns 
3-6 Kashmiri chillies (less hot that normal dried chillies)
2-4 regular dried chillies 
115g grated fresh coconut (find it fresh in many supermarkets, or frozen in Asian stores)
2 onions, 1 quartered, 1 finely chopped
5 garlic cloves 
20g roughly chopped root ginger (peeled weight)
Chilli powder, to taste (optional)
2½ tbsp tamarind paste, or to taste 

Wash the prawns well, apply a little salt and turmeric, and set aside.

Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a small pan and gently roast coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and dried chillies. Once they have darkened a little and are aromatic, scape straight into a spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. 

Place the spice powder into a blender with coconut, the quartered onion, garlic, ginger, the ½ tsp ground turmeric, the tamarind and enough water to help the blades turn, and blend until very smooth; it might take a few minutes to get it smooth, but preserve.

Heat the remaining oil in a nonstick pan, add the chopped onion and some salt and sauté until coloured on the edges. Add the paste and sauté for 10-12 minutes or until it releases oil back into the pan; it will stick so keep an eye on it and stir as necessary. Then stir-fry for another 4-5 or so over a high-ish flame until it moves around in a ball on the pan. Taste, it should be harmonious. Add chilli powder to taste, if desired. 

Add 480ml water and stir well as you bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat a little and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the prawns, cover and cook over a medium heat until the prawns are done, just 2-3 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning and the level of tang with tamarind and serve hot. 

Recipe from ‘I Love India’ by Anjum Anand (Quadrille, £20) Photography: Martin Poole


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