Another prawn dish extended this time with a root vegetable, colocasia (seppangkizhangu). Colocasia is available all over India, like the potato. When boiled they develop a slimy texture. In Tamil Nadu colocasia is combined with prawn as the sliminess acts as a thickening agent so that we don’t have to use coconut, which is quite often used in prawn preparations and is the most common thickening agent. Also, the neutral flavour of colocasia does not dominate the dish and brings out the flavour of the prawns as well as the spices used.
Prawns provide 19 g/100 g of very high quality protein. Colocasia, though it’s a root vegetable, provides a very small amount of carbohydrates and contributes slightly less than 100 calories/100 g. Therefore this is a protein rich and moderate energy dish. A word of caution – patients who are on a low-potassium diet should not be given colocasia as it contains 550 mg of potassium per 100 g.
- ½ kg Prawns, shelled and de-veined
- ½ kg Seppangkizhangu (Colocasia)
- 2 Onions, diced
- 2 Tomatoes, pulsed for 10 seconds
- 1 lime-sized ball of Tamarind or 2 tsp commercial tamarind extract
- 1/3 C Coriander Leaves, diced
- ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 T Kashmiri Chilli Powder
- ¼ tsp Mustard Seeds
- ½ tsp Cumin Seeds
- ½ tsp Fenugreek Seeds
- 2 T Vegetable Oil
- 2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 to 2 C Water, or more
- Pressure cook the colocasia for 15 minutes. Cool. Peel and slice.
- Extract juice from the tamarind to arrive at one to one-and-a-half cups (refer Notes). If using the commercial extract, dissolve the concentrate in one to one-and-a-half cups of water.
- Heat the oil in a non-stick kadai or wok.
- Add the mustard seeds. When they crackle add the cumin and fenugreek seeds.
- Immediately add the onion and stir. When it becomes translucent, add the prawns and cook till they curl.
- Add the tomatoes and cook till the mixture becomes almost dry.
- Add the turmeric and chilli powders, coriander leaves and salt. Stir.
- After a minute of cooking, add the tamarind extract. Bring to boil.
- Add the colocasia. Adjust salt and simmer for a few minutes.
- Add the curry leaves and remove from heat.
- To extract tamarind juice: soak the tamarind in hot water for half an hour. Squeeze, and strain the extract.
- I use Kashmiri chilli powder for its mild flavour and glorious red colour.
- Colocasia becomes slimy when cooked. If overcooked it will become too mushy to hold its shape.
- For a Tamilian preparation this is an unusually mild dish. You can spice it up by adding powders of cumin and fenugreek.