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India was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I remember stepping off the plane and hitting a wall of a thousand different odours and an intense damp warmth that only made them more intense. Alone and overwhelmed at 2 AM with a lost backpack and absolutely no clue what was going to happen. I called everyone that night, my best friend, my parents, anyone who could tell me I was there for a reason. The streets were full of sleeping bodies, families  lying on pavement under just a tarp. Even the highway meridians were clouded with little shelters. I could just barely hold in my tears at seeing this reality. There are no amounts of photos or news stories that can prepare a person for the harsh realities of such extreme poverty and division of wealth. At 19 I was still under the impression that it was my God given right to have everything handed to me on a silver platter. It was clear however that something within me wanted to be woken up. The mitote (haze) lifted a little each day. Every meal felt like such a blessing and I developed this incapacity to waste anything.

The best food was in Kerala in the south of India. They use so much coconut and seafood and the history is very interesting. I remember eating this curry there. The brilliant golden hue and the divine creaminess is hard to forget. It’s a simple yet decadent curry and sometimes it’s made with crab or other types of seafood. It’s the time of year where I start making lots of curries and soups to warm me up and remind me of tropical paradises. Malai Prawn Curry traditionally is a Bengali dish, but everyone has their own version. Malai means cream, but in most cases the creaminess comes from coconut and ghee. The lemongrass isn’t traditional but I thought it added a nice freshness to the dish. Enjoy with basmati rice and fresh coriander.

 

Malai Prawn Curry

 

Malai Prawn Curry

Malai Prawn Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 green chilis + 1 red chili for extra spice (optional)
  • 2 inch piece fresh turmeric OR 1 tsp dried turmeric
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 6 fresh or dried curry leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
  • 2 cans full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 20 medium sized raw prawns, peeled and deveined

Instructions

  1. Make a paste with the ginger, garlic, chilis and turmeric in a food processor or mortar and pestle.
  2. In a wok or large skillet heat up the coconut oil. Add mustard seeds and when they start to pop add the paste and the curry leaves.
  3. Add the coconut milk, sugar, lemongrass, salt, red pepper and prawns and bring to a simmer. Serve as soon as the prawns are fully cooked after about 5 minutes.
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Malai Prawn Curry

 

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