Like some of you already know, my mother’s family originally is from Goa. Growing up, we spent almost every summer in our ancestral home in Goa. It was a sprawling old Portuguese styled house with large grounds surrounding it. In our garden grew a variety of mango trees. We also had a great big coconut tree. Our garden also housed some custard apple, pomegranate, chickoos / Sapota, jackfruit, cashews, guavas, bananas and so much more. Some of my fondest memories have got to be me tagging along with my aunt harvesting all the lovely organic produce right through our holidays and enjoying all the yummy food my mum and aunt would whip up for us.
This prawn curry made a regular appearance on the table along with some Goan red rice and whatever vegetable was in season. Our Goa house had 2 kitchens, one was a traditional old wood fired one and the other was a modern one with a gas stove-top. However, almost all the cooking was done in earthenware pots in the old kitchen. While everything took a lot longer to cook, the taste was unbeatable.
I would give anything to experience something like that again. While that might still be a pipe dream, for now, I just make do replicating some of the good old recipes. This prawn curry is a coconut based curry, known for its vibrant orange color and its spicy and tangy flavors. I hope you try it out and enjoy it as much as we do.
Goan Prawn Curry with Okra
500g prawns, shelled, de-veined and washed a couple of times
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 chillies, split lengthwise
A couple of pieces of Kokum / Aamsol (dried souring agents)
6-8 okra pods, trim off the stalk and cut into approx. 1 inch pieces
Salt, to taste
1-2 tbsp oil
A small ball of tamarind (about half a walnut in size)
For the masala / spice paste –
1/2 cup grated coconut
6 Kashmiri chillies
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/8 tsp black pepper corns
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
Sprinkle a little salt on the prepped prawns and set aside.
Soak the tamarind in a little warm water in a small bowl and set aside.
Grind all the ingredients for the masala into a fine paste using a little water, as needed
Heat the oil in a large vessel.
Add the onions and saute till they soften. Add the kokum / aamsol.
Add the ground masala / spice paste to the pan and let it fry for a couple of minutes.
Add a cup of water to the mixer and swirl around to pick up any of the remaining spice mix and add to the pan. Add more water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
Add the chillies and bring to a boil. Season lightly with a little salt (The prawns also have some salt on them so add salt accordingly). Lower the heat to a simmer and add the okra.
Cook gently till the okra is almost cooked. Check for seasoning.
Mash the tamarind up and discard any pieces of fibre or shell and add some of the tamarind paste, to taste.
Add the prawns. Continue cooking just till the prawns have cooked through. (This usually just takes a couple of minutes depending on the size of the prawns.) Do not overcook the prawns.
Check for seasoning and adjust, if needed.