Last month, I made a short trip back home to Mumbai. Meeting friends and family was just what I needed after living in a small hotel room for almost two months! Going to my workplace and absorbing the gentle hum of advertising infused a new energy in me. Working from home can sometimes make you feel like you’re bubble wrapped. So I made the most of my trip, soaking in the sights, going back to old haunts, indulging in retail therapy.
And getting the chance to cook made me as happy as a clam.
While I was there, my mother took me along to a fresh seafood market on a Sunday morning. On our way back home, I offered to cook a lovely Bengali recipe a friend had shared with me. It’s her mum’s take on the traditional one and a complete winner. I was a little apprehensive though, my mother is a skilled cook and not very open to new flavours. She prefers her rustic preparations, but thankfully everyone, including her was thrilled with this treat.
Thanks Mou, for sharing the recipe, you’ve brought much joy to fellow foodies. The beautiful mustard sauce, the sweet prawns, the tangy tamarind and the bite of the green chilly make this a mellow, soul nourishing dish.
Here’s the real quick and simple recipe, in case you’d like to give it a try.
Serves Four | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 15 mins
15-20 (depending on size) Prawns – shelled and de-veined
1/3 cup of Mustard seeds – soaked for about 4-6 hours
3-4 Green Chillies
2 tablespoons Tamarind pulp
2 tablespoons Mustard oil or any cooking oil
1 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 Potato peeled and chopped into wedges – This isn’t a part of the original recipe, but I love the buttery soft texture of potato wedges with the mustard sauce. You can choose to skip the potato.
Salt to taste
Sprinkle some salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of Turmeric on the cleaned prawns and set aside for 20 minutes.
Grind the soaked mustard seeds adding a little water as you go to make a smooth paste.
Tip: If you don’t have the time to pre-soak the mustard seeds, don’t worry, you can still whip up this meal in 15 minutes. Just grind the dry mustard seeds to a powder in a spice or coffee grinder and add water later to make a paste.
Make tiny slits on the chillies and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a deep pan or wok. If you’re using mustard oil, be sure to let it smoke so that it loses its pungency and gives a more well-rounded flavour to the dish. Once the oil has smoked, reduce the heat to a medium, carefully add the green chillies and let them splutter in the oil for a few seconds. Follow this with the mustard paste and saute this for a couple of minutes. Now pour in about two cups of water and bring the sauce to a boil.
Slide the potatoes into the gravy and cook until potatoes are almost done before you tip in the prawns. Prawns cook very quickly, so adding them later ensures they don’t get overdone. Finally, add the tamarind paste, adjust the quantity of water and sprinkle salt to taste. Bring the sauce up to an even simmer, and take the pan off the heat once the sauce thickens.
Serve with hot rice while the aroma is still wafting through your kitchen. Be sure to share how it turned out. After all, sharing is caring.
P.S. If you’re vegetarian, you can substitute the prawns with paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or mushrooms. I haven’t tried it myself, but if you do, drop me a line and let me know if it worked.