Mixing Red Wine, Chit chat and Curry

Mallika Basu - Mixing Red Wine, Chit chat and Curry

Posted 14th November 2006

prawn-curry.jpgYesterday, the guru of all blog gurus came over for dinner.

Hugh Fraser is the mother (maybe father) of all blog developers, a real blog consultant and my occasional tinkering technician.

The plan was that he would come over, I would teach him how to cook a chicken curry and then we would drink wine, chat and eat Indian food.

But, as is to be expected the ‘drink wine and chat’ bit kind of became the real focus of the evening. We ploughed our way through a bottle of Rioja and a bottle of Merlot before I could say ‘brown the onions’ and the less said about the chicken curry, the better.

Still, the valiant Hugh, undeterred by the sight of yellow chicken braved the Chingri Malai Curry or prawn coconut curry and Jeera Pulao, cumin rice. I hasten to add that these were cooked on Sunday and hence unspoilt by drunkenness and too much talking.

Far from being the star pupil, Hugh has resigned himself to waiting for the recipes to be posted so that he can teach himself instead of relying on me.

Here is my recipes to serve 4 for Chingri Malai Curry, a finger-licking Bengali dish that is eaten on special occasions:

400 gms raw king prawns (I used frozen ones)
1 onion
1 piece of ginger
1 tomato, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 cloves
1 inch stick cinnamon
1 tin of coconut milk (400ml)
1 tbsp mustard oil
1 tbsp sunflower oil
One and a half tsp turmeric powder
One tsp chili powder
Half tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Grind the onion and ginger in a blender. Heat the oils and when hot add the whole spices and the sugar.

When the sugar caramelises into a lovely reddish brown colour, add the onion mixture and fry on a high heat stirring regularly.

When the onion mixture starts losing its pungent smell and slowly goes brown in parts, add the chili, turmeric and tomato.

This is the only tricky part of the recipe. You just have to fry all this until the onion and tomato mixture tastes smooth and cooked in your mouth. The masala paste will also turn a rich red colour.

When it does, add the coconut milk, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the raw prawns, stirring gently until cooked.

Add salt to taste and serve immediately.

Now for the Jeera Pulao recipe, again to serve four:

2 cups rice (500 gms)
1 tsp whole cumin (jeera)
1 bay leaf
4 whole black peppers
4 green cloves or 1 fat black one
1 star aniseed
1 tbsp ghee
Salt to taste

Heat the ghee and fry the whole spices for a few seconds until they let out their lovely aromas.Add the rice and fry until the rice flakes turn a bright white, mixing in salt according to your taste. Don’t go too mad because the prawn curry will have salt in it too. Add 4 cups of water and bring the rice to a boil. When it starts bubbling, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and wait until the rice absorbs all the water.

This aromatic rice is delicious with all curries. I think Hugh would agree too!

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