I tell you grandmothers have the best recipes. Or I don’t know if they have the best hearts.
The other day, mine decided to indulge me with prawns. I am used to prawns being fried in a spicy paste of red chilly powder among other things. So she decided to show me how it was done in her day.
So 2 kilos of luscious-looking prawns found their way into a large pan where G’mummy put in a generous paste of shallots, garlic, chilly flakes and salt. She let it sit and then poured out some shiny coconut oil. When the oil started shimmer, she puts this mixture and for the next hour stirs, stirs and stirs. Patiently, on a low, fire she heats up the mixture taking care that the prawns cook but don’t burn or turn rubbery. She takes great care with the type of pan she uses because it needs to something that conducts heat very very slowly.
At the end of it there’s this gleaming mix of prawns studded with finely chopped shallots and garlic that have just gone tender. The paste clings so lovingly to the prawns that you can see the gentle pink colour of the cooked flesh.
I take one ready-to-burst piece of lusciousness and give it a little squeeze between my thumb and forefinger. I can feel the flesh firm yet yielding. And I pop it into my mouth. It doesn’t hit. It doesn’t dazzle. It goes slow on your tongue. Salt – check, spice – check, unique flavour of shallots and coconut oil – check. The delicate sweetness of the prawn does a gentle waltz with the raw masculinity of the spices, and it seems like a perfect marriage because neither loses its individual nature.
I couldn’t quite figure out what it would go with best but I think a safe bet would be a dosa or a Malabar parotta – fluffed up and pretty. I tried it with a little Indian-made Merlot (Mushal) with it and it just reaffirmed my faith that you can actually drink a red with seafood.
Recipe and picture coming soon. As soon as G’mummy parts with the former.
Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia. My own will be up soon.