Singapore Prawn Curry

This is another recipe adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s excellent  Ultimate Curry Bible. It may seem like a lot of ingredients on first glance, but it is just a matter of measuring teaspoons of things out for the most part and the remainder of the recipe is very simple. Besides, in terms of depth of flavour and ‘nnnhhnmmm, omg’ ness, the ends do definitely justify the means. Maybe I am biased – my love for prawn curries and my romance with tamarind would predispose me to liking this, but still it is good. Despite the creaminess of the coconut milk, the tamarind and paprika make this a bright and spicy curry of medium heat. Madhur specifies this should be eaten with rice – and if Madhur says so, then ordinarily rice it must be. But I have run out of rice, so chappatis it must be for our tea tonight. No-one will mind.

  • 4 tbsp yellow oil such as corn or sunflower
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
  • 3 shallots, very finely sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes – peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250 ml water
  • 1 tbsp ground corainder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 750g raw prawns
  • 400 ml coconut milk

Please, please peel your tomatoes. Tomato skin doesn’t taste all that nice, and given the cost of the prawns, this two minute job will really improve the finished dish. Simply, boil a kettle and pour it into a bowl. Cut a cross in the top and the bottom of the tomato with a sharp knife, cutting the skin but not too deeply into the flesh. Leave them in there for about a minute and then remove them. By the time they have cooled down, the skin will slip off.

Anyway, heat the oil in a large wide pan, and put in the cumin seed, the fenugreek and the fennel seed. Give them a quick stir and when theu start to pop and jump out of the pan, put in your galic and shallots and fry over a gentle heat until the shallots are soft and golden. Stir in the ginger and chopped tomato and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have softened down – bashing them with the wooden spoon will help this process considerably. When you are satisfied, stir in the remaining spices and the salt until well combined with the shallots, and then stir in the water. Cook this over a medium heat for 15 minutes.

Add your prawns and coconut milk, stirring over a medium heat until the sauce is simmering and the prawns are opaque. Eat.

Special Fried Rice

I don’t know whether it is the fact that we are now in September that has made me crave carbs like the culinary equivalent of a duvet, or its just been a particularly bad day, but it is what it is and starchy comfort  food is what I want. I am going to make a conscious effort to cut down on the carbs a little bit before my trousers get any tighter, but not today…

So. Rice and stuff. There are versions of this from all over the place. Wherever there is rice, there is a version where someone has put the rice in a pan with something tasty and some butter or oil and cooked it off. Whether its risotto, paella, nasi goreng, pilaf or jambalaya, whatever it is, clever eaters know their rice tastes better with stuff. So this is my midweek version. Its probably closest to special fried rice you see in Chinese restaurants but it is intended as a main, rather than a side, and unlike the rationale used by many (one wonders if by ‘special’, takeaways mean ‘specially designed to make the most of the scraps and offcuts’) , I have shopped for this specifically, rather than using leftovers. If you’re looking for more than a nod to authenticity, you won’t find it in this particular recipe, however, the chorizo does add a specifically non asian flavour. You could replace it for chinese smoked sausage if you wanted, or leave it out all together. It is quick, easy and tasty  though, and as I curl up with a glass of wine, my plate and a book tonight, that is really all I will care about. Serves 3-4.

  • large mug of long grain rice
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, thoroughly beaten
  • 1 large *free range* chicken breast
  • chorizo sausage, half of one of the hoops you can get or a couple of the uncooked ones
  • small packet of cooked prawns
  • bunch of spring onions, whites only, chopped into inch pieces
  • handful frozen peas
  • red chilli, chopped

In advance, cook the rice as per the packet instructions, rinse, drain and leave to cool. If your rice is still hot when you go to make this, it will stick. I don’t know why.Given the quantities of food given here, I prefer to cook this in stages.  If it had less in, or smaller quantities I would be fairly certain of just bunging it all in and scrambling the egg over a high heat. Where chicken is involved though, I prefer to be extra sure. So, I would heat your wok until smoking slightly and add a teaspoon or so of oil. Tip your beaten egg into the wok and swirl the egg gently around until you have like a very flat omelette and slide it out onto a plate. Roll your ‘omelette’ up like a swiss roll (if you can imagine that) and slice finely. Leave to one side.

Now, put the wok back on over a high heat and add another splash of oil. Add the chicken and stir round, until white all over and depending on how big you have cubed your chicken, cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add your chorizo, stir briefly, add your chilli, spring onions, peas and  prawns. Stirfry for another couple of minutes, add your egg and then add the rice. Keep the heat as high as possible and turn the rice into the chicken, chorizo and prawn as thoroughly as possible. Keep stirring and turning for another 2 minutes or until the rice and everything else is piping hot.