Sunday, November 8, 2009

MY RECENT ENCOUNTER WITH TIGERS (I mean tiger prawns, Bagda ChingDi)

The other day after finishing a marathon Prawn cooking session, I washed and cleaned the whole mess in the kitchen and thought, it was time to eat one piece before my wife makes a head count.
I picked up one prawn and was about to put it in my mouth, when suddenly the prawn smiled at me and said...
"Hi!!! thank you, I am so grateful to you!! I am so happy!! I never received such a nice treatment from any one during my last 100s of births."
" Hey I never met a talking Tiger prawn before".
" I am not a Tiger , I am a Tigress prawn".
" Sorry dear, now tell me why you are so happy!!"
" You human beings are very cruel and ruthless, people pull and tear off our heads alive, peel our skin mercilessly, then pull out our guts, which you call veins. Imagine some one doing it to you!! "
" But why you are happy ?"
"You are very considerate and affectionate. You treated us very kindly and delicately. I have taken some photographs and see for yourself."
You bathed us and arranged very nicely 

You took out your Red handled scissors, which you used on me once in Vietnam and many times in Korea and Kuwait. You positioned the scissors at the right place and cut off the front part of my head gently. You Bongs are very fond of chewing our heads ( Chhele byala theke tomra parents der matha chibote abyastho).

You cut off the pointed middle part of the tail so that it did not hurt any one. You inserted a knife very carefully from the front and scooped out some unwanted material and you were very careful about not to spill my yellowish brain.

With your delicate move , you cut through my scale from the top all the way to the tail  with the red scissors. And with that sharp Korean knife you removed my gut ( vein as known wrongly). You kept my skin in place with a slit on top.

You put us one by one in boiling salted water for 30 seconds and took us out one by one.Wao!! we came out of that water in crimson red attire.Why you don't saute us some times in oil and instead you put us in boiling water ?."

"Well when I remove your head and scale I saute you in oil else I put you in boiling water to solidify your semi liquid brain to a yellow mass, so that it doesn't flow out . Your brain is quite tasty. Moreover it imparts that crimson red color to your skin. You look so pretty and  yummy!!! 
"How sweet of you !!! I pray  that in all my future births , God sends me to you only."
The Tigress continued with " You know dud, I was bit apprehensive about the recipe that you would naughty guy, you know many ways of cooking us..but when you decided to use Sharmistha's recipe from COOKA DOODLE DO, I was so over joyed. It really makes us very tasty with that little variation she had used. Give our regards to her and we will drop by her kitchen in future. Now eat me quickly , cant wait any more".
So that was the recent encounter with the Tiger prawns.
I cook with head and scales some times, to make the dish look good. The head is kept for chewing, a delicacy for all Bongs. To cook the head, it must be well frozen and preserved and not spoiled.The heads degrade very fast and not fit for eating always.
The other important thing is, the typical prawn flavor comes from the scales and the head. I boil the prawn and keep the liquid as frozen cubes in refrigerator. I use it in Indian and Chinese dishes. If you are dressing the prawn at home i.e if you are removing head and scale at home, saute the skin and head for 30 sec in 1 tsp oil then boil them in water with  salt, few piece of ginger, onion garlic pod, and one or two green chili. Remove the head and skins and preserve the stock. You can use it later while cooking dressed prawn, Chinese or Indian. The flesh of prawn is almost tasteless and aroma-less.


We all know how to cook prawn in many ways. So I am not going into big details. I will make Malai curry. No matter how you cook prawn with coconut milk, gram masala , ginger, garlic onion etc , it will be alway great. This Malai Curry is a funny name. It has nothing to do with Malai. Prawn is being cooked with coconut in Malabar area  from time immemorial. Many say that the name has come from Malabar curry , which I don't think is correct. One popular theory is that the recipe was brought from Malay ( now Malaysia) by British to Calcutta then the capital of British empire. And over the years Malay curry has become Malai curry.
As shakespeare has said " whats in a name ? A prawn malai curry will taste like prawn malai curry no matter what you call"
I have many variations of Malai curry. But  I decided to use the recipe of Sharmistha  from COOKA DOODLE DO.  I had never used Tomato in Malai curry  before and also wanted to try out the  roasted garam masla powder and ghee as a post seasoning/ addition.
The variation that I had to do was to use the prawns with head and skin by the order ( not request) of my wife. Sharmistha has used dressed prawns.
 Prawns (medium sized) -700gms ( undressed)
Coconut - 1/2 (cream and milk extracted as usual)
( I had to use packed coconut milk 150 ml, it must not be used in Malai curry , unless you get a thin Thai variety milk, not coconut cream.) 
*Onion - 1 medium size, finely chopped.
*Tomato - 1 medium- finely chopped
*Ginger paste - 1tsp
*Garlic - 1 tsp
*Bay Leaf - 1
*Whole Garam Masala - 3 elaichi; 2 cloves; 1 inch  cinnamon stick
*Haldi - 1 tsp
*Red Chilli powder - 1 tsp
*Kashmiri Chilli powder - 1tsp
*Salt - to taste
*Sugar - a pinch
*Roasted and ground Garam Masala powder - ( made from equal proportion of cardamom, clove and cinnamon) 1 level tsp
*Ghee - 1 tbsp
*Green Chilli - 4
*Potato - 1 medium - diced into small cubes  (optional, normally not used in Malai curry ), sauted  lightly in little oil.)
*Mustard Oil - 3 tbsp

*Clean prawn as described above by the Tigress.
*Take 3 cups of water in a pan, add salt, 2 green chili broken, 2 cubes of ginger 1cm X 1 cm. 1 small onion cut to 4 pcs, 4 puds garlic halved. (If you are sure , you wont use prawn stock for Indo-Chinese dish , then you can add 1 bay leaf, 2 cardamom, 2 cloves and 1/2 inch cinnamon ).
Bring to boil and reduce heat , add each prawn as soon as it is cleaned. ( This is to stabilize and solidify the brain and impart uniform crimson color.) and remove within 1 min. Material used here are in addition to the ingredients given above.
 NOTE: Preserve the stock frozen in cubes for future use in dishes where you use dressed prawns). This stock is generally not necessary when you are using prawns with head and scales.
*Soak in 3 tbsp water,   turmeric,  chilli powder,  kashmiri chilli , salt for 15 minutes and make a paste
*Heat Karhai and add mustrad oil.
* Add 1 level tsp sugar and caramalize ( will become light brown molten sugar)
*Add bay leaf and garam masala seasoning
* Add finely chopped onions and fry to light brown
* Add garlic paste , saute for 30 sec and add ginger paste.
*.Add the Masala paste and saute; add Tomato and keep frying till  the Tomato melts and oil comes out.

* Add the fried potato and stir for 3-5 minutes on low heat..
*Add the coconut milk and 3/4 cup of water. Cook on low heat till the potato is almost done.

*Add the prawns, mix well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. If it is too thick add water to desired consistency 

* Add the green chillies slitted..
*In a skillet heat the ghee and put the roasted and ground garam masala and immediately put  it on the curry. Mix well and cover.

Sincere thanks to Sharmistha for this wonderful recipe. For details of this recipe visit


Siddhi Shirsat said...

hi ushnish

Hey nice yummy recipe...i love tiger prawns very much...vl try soon...:-))
and must say that your posts are just 2 post so nice with so much details and pics of every step...hats off 2 u...

Sangeetha Subhash said...

Hello Ushnish, That was one awesome read about tigers(tiger prawns)...:)This is really making drool :) such a lovely colour and I can almost get the aroma here just by looking at the pics! It looks super delicious! and great click!!

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

looks so yum... As you said any prawn prep is good. I love the head too - hmmm dont get them here... I guess becuase it spoils easily!
Awesome dish again!

Gulmohar said...

wow..that crimson red attire is awesome...Loved the pic description.Really tempting :-)

Sharmila said...

That was a very good and much needed step by step guide to cleaning prawns ... will greatly help novices like me. (Can you post a similar thing on how to clean crabs? ... if you eat crabs ... thanks. )
I usually make prawns very simple .. but maybe i'll give this masaledar version a try sometime. :-)

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Sharmila
Many thanks.
I also rarely make masaladar Prawns.
Actually purpose of this blog was to share prawn cleaning and making Prawn stock from head and scales. Prawn stock is very useful if you buy dressed prawn and cook or in Prawn fried rice, noodle where we use those cleaned small shrimps.
I am reasonably good at cleaning crabs, it is simple. But seldom made here in India.
I shall fish out a video reference for crab cleaning and send it to you. It is in my library.

sangeeta said...

Hi Ushnish...
so the tigress fell in love with you...:) just imagine how many more of those beauties are flocking towards you now......

one machhliwala in dhanbad used to bring these beautiful blue striped prawns it's difficult to get them....

it was a lovely read and the yellow brain which i never mustered the courage to eat seems much more palatable now...i did not know how to clean the head portion if kept intact n always removed the head....
the instructions are just too good...and the recipe interesting as i have never tried all these ingredients like tomatoes, potatoes n garam masala in a malai curry.......thanks for sharing !!

A Homemakers Diary said...

Hi just loved the write up. that was an amazing story describing the step by step process of cleaning prawns.
the dish looks yum too. we mostly make jhol and malaikari. will give this one a try.

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Sangeeta
I like your humour.Thanks,
You get the Tiger Prawns in CR Park and other varieties too.
The recipe is from Sharmistha's blog at COOKA DOODLEDO..Please follow that for this Malai Curry.

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Sayantani
Many thanks for visiting my blog and your appreciation. As mentioned in the blog,it is a Malai Curry taken from COOKA DOODLEDO. The taste is very good.
I also make jhol, jhal,Bati cha-chaDi, sorshe bata etc and occasionally Malai curry. Saw your profile and just cant wait to go to your blog and pick up some authentic Bengali recipes.
good wises

Vrinda said...

Gr8 hubby also lov prawn heads,but i dont,so he cooks it separately...he says all the nutrients r in fish heads,thats good for brain developement...looks so colorful..

Babli said...

I liked your blog very much. I appreciate for your wonderful presentation with step by step mouth watering pictures. Tiger prawn is my favourite. It looks delicious and yummy.
You are welcome in my blogs.

Indrani said...

A great helpful post....very nice way of telling the cleaning and dressing prawns...It really helped me..normally I buy the cleaned and cooked one, as I don't like to do that by myself..but thinking to give it a shot next time with your guide....Pl. accept your award from my blog, from awards for my followers post...

prasu said...

Hi more yummy recipe from u....colorful and wonderful recipe....hummmm...the write is sooooooooooooooooooooooo nice...

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Indrani
Many thanks for the award. I am honored.
Actually my Idea was to give some tips for making prawn stock, so that they can be used while cooking dressed prawns.
Keeping the shell gives a good presentation, but if it is not a large variety, it can be irritating for people taking out the scale.
while eating !!!
have a nice week

SGD said...

What a wonderful lovestory !!! The Tigress Prawn & The Bengal Tiger!!
Loved your narration which gave an altogether dimension to the recipe!!
And thanks for mentioning me in your post!!!

Ami ei boiling for a minute ta time korbo!

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Sharmistha
I like that prawn tigress and Bengal tiger part ha ha.
As mentioned above, only drop in boiling water if you want to stabilize and eat the head or want to take out stock, else no need.
If you saute in oil with scale on..u must have noticed it develops whitish patches. This is because of dehydration and as soon as u put them in will rehydrate and become red..

Siddhi Shirsat said...

ya try it soon and do tel me how it tasted. Try with star anise and see, you will like its flavour.

Siddhi Shirsat said...

hey in have awards for u in my blog..chk thm

Malar Gandhi said...

Oh Ushnish, thats very beautifully written post. I liked the way you described them, poetic.

I like skin-on prawn and even the you siad they are delicasies.

I did research in Tiger Prawns, when I did those nasty stuff(cutting, grinding, trying out with diff' chemicals whats not) in the lab, all my non-veg friends used to be mad at this is one of the pricey stuff in the market, and I spoil it like nobodies bussiness.

Yeah yeah de-vein (when it is still gut), ha ha.

Between thank you so much for your lovely words, at my blog. Its very encouraging.

Balakrishna Saraswathy said...

Well as I'm Singaporean eating prawn with their heads is very popular in Chinese and Malay cooking..These looks so good and would pe perfect with Nasi Lemak..thanks for sharing:D

Anonymous said...

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don't quit as well as keep posting as it just simply well worth to look through it.
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PreeOccupied said...

Kaku, bhalo. Explain korecho for people who do not know one part from another! Long live the Tiger Prawn.

Padhu said...

Though I am a vegetarian ,I enjoyed reading your tiger prawn recipe as you have written so well .