The coolest month of the year for Tamilians is January, and we are very happy to get the freshest of vegetables during this period. This concept of combining prawns with vegetables is new to my family because we made only two prawn dishes – Fry and Moli. My friend Jacintha, who is a Burmese repatriate, gave me this recipe though she said it isn’t a Burmese recipe but just a family favourite. I have used the same ingredients and quantities she gave, but have made the procedure simpler and easier. I serve it with Naan, Peas Pulav, and Mushroom and Capsicum Pulav.
In India, we use the term prawn for shrimp also. While I was looking for something special to make for Christmas, I came across the recipe Idaho Tuna Puffs in The Family Circle’s Casserole Cookery Book. I decided to substitute prawns for tuna, as tuna is not easily available here, and to make it suitable for the Indian palate. I deleted the cheese from the ingredients because it didn’t contribute either to the flavour or the texture. I used silicon moulds to make these puffs. I used some of the dough to make small pies to give variety in shapes.
I love to combine prawns with vegetables, maybe because in my family prawns were never combined with other vegetables. I have posted several recipes combining prawns with vegetables (Prawn and Bitter Gourd Fry, Prawn and Ridge Gourd Curry, Prawn and Colocasia Curry, Prawn and Snake Gourd Fry, and many more). Okra is not liked by children, mainly because of its slimy texture when it comes in contact with water. I have avoided this in this preparation. The Mexican Spice Mix was suggested by my daughter. I have modified it to suit the Indian palate, and also deleted garlic powder to improve shelf life and because Indians are used to consuming fresh garlic.
After the internet developed so much, buying fish has become easier these days. Fish vendors either call you or message you on your preferences, and deliver the fish all cleaned and ready to cook. I got some lovely prawns recently. I didn’t have the time to grind the masalas, and I created this very simple and easy to prepare prawn fried rice. I used an extra amount of water to cook the prawns so that I will have sufficient stock to cook the rice. This enhanced the flavour of the fried rice, and we just couldn’t stop eating it.
In Thirunelveli, we make two kinds of curries using prawn/fish and coconut milk. I have already posted the recipe for Meen Asadhu using marine fish. Moli uses totally different kinds of spices for seasoning and does not include coriander powder. To me, both taste absolutely divine :), but I prefer moli for prawns. This is a quick and easy preparation if you are using reconstituted coconut milk and also purchase already shelled and deveined prawns. I serve this with either plain rice or chappatis.
In Tamil Nadu, the term Chenna Kunni refers to tiny shrimps. These are salted and dried in their shells. There are 2 varieties: small and very small. For this pickle I have chosen the very small variety so that it will blend easily with the other ingredients. I love to make sweet pickles, and I decided to try it with chenna kunni. The spice mix I have used is not the usual combination found in prawn pickles. Additionally, it gets its unique sweetness from the caramelisation of sugar, unlike other pickles where the sugar only adds a conventional sweetness to the taste. To my delight I arrived at a product which is new and most delectable.
Prawns always help add flavour to vegetable dishes. This recipe comes from my Burma repatriate friend. When she told me that her mother combines prawn with bitter gourd I was shocked and sceptical about the taste of the product because the bitter gourd, as the name suggests, has a very strong, bitter flavour. Still, I got the recipe from her and decided to try it at home. To my amazement and pleasure, I found that this is one of the most delectable preparations of prawn with another vegetable.