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.
Note: Ginger-garlic paste can be bought in a jar in most Indian markets. Alternatively, combine equal parts ginger and garlic grated on a microplane grater.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 10 curry leaves
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 small green chillies (such as Thai bird) chopped fine
- 1/2 cup tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste (see note)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar or grated jaggery
- 1 1/2 tablespoon vinegar (preferably palm vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons water
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup medium shelled, deveined shrimp
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently put in the curry leaves and step aside as they pop. Stir for 20 seconds. Add the chopped onions and stir until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the green chillies and stir for another minute. Add the tomato puree and keep stirring until oil separates from the onion tomato mix, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger-garlic past, red chilli, turmeric, and cumin, and keep stirring until mixture is fragrant, about 5 minutes, taking care to ensure the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom.
Add the sugar/grated jaggery, vinegar, and water and cook till the rawness of the tomato is gone, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Add the shrmp, stir and let cook for one minute. Remove from heat. Allow to continue cooking off heat, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes longer. Garnish with coriander and serve with white rice and daal.
Heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet