I had some humongous giant prawns that needed to be used up before getting freezer-burned and, since my wife needed an accompaniment to a batch of her signature dal, I decided to uses them in spicy Indian-style preparation using spinach, chili and a little Bengali Panch Phoron…
- 6 – 8 Giant Prawns;
- 1 cup frozen chopped Spinach;
- 2 tbsp. Lemon juice;
- 1 ½ tsp. Salt;
- 1 ½ tbsp. Turmeric;
- 1 tsp. Panch Phoron;
- 1 tsp. Cumin seed, dry roasted and ground;
- 1 tbsp. Garlic Puree;
- 1 tbsp. minced Ginger;
- ¼ cup chopped green Chili;
- ½ cup plain Yoghurt;
- ½ cup Water;
- Ghee or vegetable oil for cooking;
- Lemon wedges for garnish (optional).
Here are the prawns and shrimp I used. You can use and equivalent amount of fresh spinach if you like but you will need to blanch it briefly and then chop it finely. In either event, you should squeeze it well before cooking to remove excess water.
First, peel the shrimp, leaving the tail section intact, and de-vein if necessary. Rub them all with the lemon juice then sprinkle them first with the salt and then with the turmeric, rubbing both well into the flesh. Set aside for the moment.
Heat a suitable pan over moderate heat and add 2 -3 tbsp. ghee or cooking oil. When it is hot, add the panch phoron and allow it to cook until some of the seeds start to pop. Now, add the shrimp and stir-fry until they are pink and just cooked through. Remove to a bowl for the time being.
Add enough additional ghee or oil to make up three tablespoons in the pan and, when it is hot, add the chopped chili and the ground cumin. Once the chili has softened, add the garlic, ginger and the yoghurt, stirring to blend well.
Now add the water, the shrimp, and the spinach and continue to stir until the water has mostly evaporated to leave a fairly thick sauce. When everything has heated through nicely, plate and serve.
Here you can see the final plating… My wife’s dal was as good as always and the rice, cooked with saffron, cardamom and peas, was just fine. As for the main feature, however, I was less excited.
The shrimp themselves were very nice – sweet and tender – and the masala was very tasty too. Unfortunately, I just didn’t think the two complemented each other as well as I anticipated. My wife liked it, and I don’t think she was just being polite, but, in all, I was a little disappointed. I will try the same masala again, but I think that the flavors would be much better with something more robust like beef or maybe lamb.