prawn and coconut curry

i'm still wearing a winter coat but it's almost spring. you can tell by the late soft dusk and the smell of something in the air. the light has changed too.

going home, i walk past a group of boys, no older than 15 or 16, on their way out somewhere. all skinny jeans and long hair, and an insouciant attitude. i feel excited on their behalf - those friday nights in spring held so much promise, of friends, and fun, and forbidden things, of posturing, of smoking fags and drinking beer and talking about music, and daydreaming about unattainable boys in band tee shirts and enviable record collections.

i go home, listen to dizzee rascal, drink beer and cook. your kitchen is where it's at.

r is out for a boys' night out which apprently includes a curry, and it makes me want one too. for some reason, i fancy prawns again so i find a gary rhodes (horrible man, so i've heard) recipe for a bengali curry which turns out to be possibly the best one i have ever made. i do change it a bit, mainly by adding more veg and less oil.


for two, though i eat three quarters of it myself with some boiled broccoli

12 large prawna shelled

1 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 green cardamom pods, split

4 cloves

2 sticks cinnamon

2 bay leaves

2 whole dried red chillies, I used the really mild kashmiri ones

2 small onions, finely chopped

4 cm ginger, finely chopped

150g button mushrooms

1 pak choi

1 1/2 tsp mild red chilli powder - i used chilli flakes as i had nothing else. it just made it hotter, which is fine by me

2 tsp ground cumin

100ml coconut milk

50g freshly grated coconut - i use waitrose coconut chunks and whizz them in a blender with the coconut milk

2 tbsp chopped coriander

pinch garam masala

put the prawns into a mixing bowl and stir in half the turmeric and salt. set aside for 10 minutes. beat the oil in a wok or a large saucepan set over a medium heat. Add the prawns and fry for about a minute until the colour changes. remove from the pan. heat the rest of the oil and when hot, put in the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, and dried chillies. after about 1 minute, add the onion and ginger, together with the chopped mushrooms and fry until the onions are golden. stir in the chilli powder, ground cumin and remaining tumeric - fry for another 30 seconds to cook the spices. pour in the coconut milk/grated coconut and add the pak choi. when it's cooked, after maybe 3-4 minutes, add the prawns and cook for another 2-3 minutes, scatter over the chopped coriander, and sprinkle with garam masala.

i'm not sure the photos do it justice - it was hot and sweet and creamy and umami-ish and went ridiculously well with the bottle of india pale ale i bought for myself as a little treat. in fact, i might have the rest of it for breakfast, with a fried egg on top.


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