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 use..you 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.INGREDIENTS
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.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSincere thanks to Sharmistha for this wonderful recipe. For details of this recipe visit