Bengali stir-fried prawns with mustard

Bengali stir-fried prawns with mustard

By
From
I Love India
Serves
4
Photographer
Martin Poole

This hails from West Bengal and although the state has a coast, much of its fish and seafood is from freshwater sources such as rivers and lakes. Fish and prawns are one of their most important sources of protein and are eaten in some form at least once a day. The other food love there is mustard – seeds, oil and paste. There is something magical about making your own mustard paste, watching the seeds transform into familiar yellow mustard with its strong, sharp smell. Until I went to Bengal, I had no idea how beautifully mustard worked with seafood, but the way the Bengalis make this and their fish curry shows they are masters of strong but restrained flavours. One last note: the Bengalis are the only peoples of India, as far as I know, who eat in courses, so often a dish comes out by itself. This dish stands up to being eaten alone, or with Simple, Perfect Rice.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
400g large raw tiger prawns, shelled and deveined, but tails left on
11/2 tablepoon finely grated root ginger
5 garlic cloves, finely grated
2/3 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt
11/2 tablepoons brown mustard seeds
2 tablepoons vegetable or mustard oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2-3 green chillies, stalks removed, each pierced with a knife
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste
2 rounded tbsp coconut cream, or to taste
handful chopped coriander

Method

  1. Rub the prawns with the ginger, garlic, turmeric and a good pinch of salt. Leave for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, blend the mustard seeds with 2–3 tbsp water until fine (the husks of the seeds will still be there).
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook until soft and colouring at the edges. Add the green chillies and sauté for about 30–40 seconds. Now tip in the prawns and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add 2½ tbsp of the mustard paste, a little splash of hot water, the chilli powder and coconut cream and sauté for another minute or so until the prawns are cooked.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the chopped coriander and serve hot.
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