My Mom's prawn curry and the art of delegation

I am a big believer in the art of delegation. Even if it means giving up control. Team members can focus on what they are good at. You can get the best out of people. And the next level is groomed to move up the ladder. This is the story how I, all right, 'we' made a great prawn curry at home through team work.

The Cast:
  • My Mom (in absentia): The prawn curry that she made after K and I got married cemented relations between the Bengali mother in law and her Parsi daughter in law. Mom would send some prawn curry back with me for K when I went to Calcutta alone. Which is not often. So I have reinterpreted her curry and make a version which is close to hers
  • Mama : K's mama. One of the rare Parsi vegetarians. He occasionally gets fish for us and often extols the virtues of mutton over chicken. Caught in the picture below with loads of prawns.
  • Banu: My sous chef and Pygmalion and right now the 'hand that rocks the ladle'. Especially since I can't get a toe hold into the kitchen.
The Plot:
I suddenly got a call from vegetarian Mama. "Are you home? The fish seller came. Insisted I buy prawns. I am coming over with prawns."
The bell rang. I hobbled across to open it. There he was with the prawns.
I made the basic masala mix, instructed Banu, and the rest was history.
So there you are, prawns brought by Mama, dish inspired by Mom, recipe implemented by Banu. The result was as close to the original as possible.

I took a photo. But Mama felt that the potato and prawns were getting equal prominence (the photo above) and asked me to pile up the prawns for a proper photo. That photo is at the beginning of the post. He insisted that I take a picture of the raw prawns too. So there you go. This is half of what he got us!

Mama was admiring the fragrance when the prawns were getting cooked. And then removed the potatoes from the picture. Some vegetarian! Mamma, his fish, mutton, prawn, cheese, chocolate loving mother, would be so proud of him.

Recipe: (My interpretation of my mom's curry)
  • Take 400 - 500 g prawns and mildly fry in a bit of turmeric and salt. Just fry till the colour of the prawns change and becomes opaque. Prawns should not be over cooked. Drain out the water which comes when you fry the prawns
  • Three potatoes, cubes, parboiled and lightly fried in the same spice mix and set aside. Parboiling is important as it wont cook too long in the curry.
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil
  • Add whole garam masala, 1 tea spoon, 2 bay leaves, 2 dry red chillies - let them splutter/ crackle
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of whole cumin (shada jeere) and let it splutter
  • Add paste of half an onion. Stir till onion becomes brownish
  • Add 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • Add paste of three tomatoes to this and let it thicken. The red colour and tangy taste distinguish this dish
  • Add masala mix - 1 teaspoon each of red chilly powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, salt - pasted together in a bit of water and added to the curry mix
  • Add half a cup of water to this. Let it come to a boil
  • Reduce flame. Add prawns and potato as the sauce simmers
  • Keep flame on for a minute and shut it and let the prawn cook in its own steam
  • Garnish with chopped coriander, split green chillies, garam masala powder
  • Have it with plain steamed rice

For the record, vegetarian Mama had parathas, methi and Alu Dom made with Cookme Alu Dom mix from Calcutta.


Shaswati said…
SOunds good - will try out tomorrow. :)
Gia Fernandes said…
Why is K's Mama vegetarian? I am most intrigued...

Curry looks yummy but those raw prawns have me worried. I hope Banu de-veined them!

Next time put up your recipe for Chingri Malai. I love it!
Swastik Rath said…
My wife insists that Goan Prawn Curry and Rice is the best combination, I agree, though I would prefer the Oriya version of the prawn curry(Have grown up with that).
I can never get used to Coconut Milk in my dishes.
this is too tempting .. gotta try this out.. ..thanks for good reciepe..
Kalyan Karmakar said…
All the best Harman, Shaswati...let me know how it went

Swastik...i hear you. I like the odd Goan curry but nothing gives the sort of joy which the inion based, coconut free curries which we have grown up on

CC: yes she did :) the raw ones here are for another day.

He is the family black sheep. A vegetarian. I guess he is quite deep and volutarily gave up the pleasures of meat

Malai curry is largely the same but add coconut milk and go easy on the tomatoes. Some versions add more turmeric. I don't. Similar to prawn Bafad
Gia Fernandes said…
Hmmm and which day might that be? I have some errands to run in Bandra anyway ;-) I hope those juicy little fellows find their way into a nice creamy Chingri Malai... Aah! Bliss!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
CC, I had the left over prawns from the day before just now. Tasted even better and jucier than in day one. Out shadowed the delectable left over chicken korma from last night.

Call me the left over King.

Lesson in life ... don't leave errands pending :)
Sharmila said…
Wow! You break a toe and live life king size. I love this prawn curry as I have grown up on this too ... potatoes and all. :-)
I think I'll go break my toe ... or maybe the whole leg ... what say? ;-)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Sharmila, based on experience i would just recommend the toe ;) we don't want to over spice it

Potatoes is manna to both Bengalis and Parsis. I read an entire paragraph yesterday on how potatoes should be cut for different curries in Chitrita Banerjee's excellent book, Tradtions of Bengal