I love discoveries in the kitchen. Times when the mind is clueless and decides to experiment with whatever is available in the kitchen pantry. What follows sometimes are disasters, or on lucky days, recipes that astound you. Experimenting with recipes in the kitchen with ingredients in hand is something I love to do. This slow-cooked prawn masala is one such discovery of mine.
I remember that day very clearly. I wanted to make a great prawn curry for my mom and me, and all I had in the pantry were some bare minimum ingredients – some onion, ginger, garlic, chilies and coriander. So I decided to go with my gut and make a slow cooked prawn curry with lots of onions. And the result was so fabulous that this is now one of my favorite Indian prawn curries!
The onions are the hero
The secret to the deliciousness of this recipe lies in its slow cooking. We are going to use a lot of onions because there is really not much else we have as ingredients here. Also, it is important that you dice the onions into thin slices, instead of chopping or grinding it. Thinly sliced onions are perfect for slow cooking as they melt with time and add a beautiful texture to gravies.
The onions are cooked till they caramelize and melt with the rest of the spices, emanating flavors and aromas that are simply stunning. The way every ingredient comes together in harmony in the low heat and exposes the complexity of flavors with time is fascinating. I also love slow cooking because I don’t have to keep stirring or keep an eye on the recipe every minute. And meat and fish recipes work wonders with this principle.
With or without shells?
This really depends on your comfort zone. Personally, I am of the opinion that the shells of a prawn have the maximum taste. So if not the entire shell, at least keep the tail on. The tail of the prawn will absorb most of the flavor of the curry and make the meal more enjoyable. If you are feeling too ambitious and do not have any allergies, go ahead and use the entire shell of the prawns.
Try to use fresh prawns and not frozen ones. This is because fresh prawns taste way better! I like to but my prawns just one the day I decide to cook them. Fortunately, they are easily available where I live. But if you do not have access, go ahead and use frozen ones.
This curry is slow cooked but the prawns are only added towards the end. Because prawns cook at lightning speed and you do not want them to turn rubbery. In this recipe, we will cook the prawns for just five minutes towards the end.
What makes this slow-cooked prawn masala special?
In my opinion, this slow cooked prawn masala is magical. Packed with flavours and colour, this one requires very minimal ingredients but some degree of patience. The prawns are added right in the end because they cook super quick. And all that flavor is in the tail. I would suggest you keep the tail on because that shell is mind-blowing. I also recommend using your hands while you eat this to mash everything together.
Even in that last five minutes, the prawns soak in all the flavours within itself, making every bite a heavenly experience. You really do not need too much gravy in this recipe as every drop matters. The onions are slow cooked for about thirty minutes, till they caramelize and melt, adding their own sweetness to the gravy. The other highlights include the pungency of pure mustard oil, dry red chillies and green chillies and the coriander in the end for that extra touch of divinity. Super earthy, simple and easy. All you need is a little bit of patience and love.