Beyond Curry: Prawn Patia

Beyond Curry

Inspired Indian home cooking.

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[Photograph: Prasanna Sankhe]

The first time I bit into some Prawn Patia, my tastebuds went into quite a tizzy. It's one of those dishes that combines every flavor you normally have separately into one. There's sweet, spicy, tangy and hot notes that work wonderfully with each other. It's like they all agreed to get along just in the interest of the prawns.

There's also a vegetarian version of this dish which uses baby black aubergines instead of prawns, and it's equally delicious.

Prawn Patia is usually served as a side dish. And the way it's traditionally eaten is quite unique. A bed of fluffy white rice is covered generously with yellow lentils. Over this white and yellow base, scarlet spoonfuls of Prawn Patia are ladled on and mixed together in every morsel. Eating it this way adds a new dimension of texture and subtlety to the dish. But I've also found that it's equally delicious on its own, with just a little bit of white bread for company.