Indian Spiced Prawns

Serves: 4


1 tablespoon yellow split peas

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 dried red chile, such as thai, cayenne or chile de arbol

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate

1/2 teaspoon salt

500g raw prawns (16-20 per 500g), peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds

1/4 cup minced shallots

1/2 cup water


  1. Toast split peas, coriander, cumin, peppercorns and chilli in a large skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the peas turn reddish brown, the spices become fragrant and the chilli blackens slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle until the mixture is the texture of finely ground black pepper.
  2. Combine cilantro, tamarind concentrate (or lime juice), salt and the spice blend in a medium bowl. Add prawns and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Do not marinate for more than 2 hours or the acidity in the tamarind will affect the prawns’ texture.)
  3. Heat oil in the pan over medium-high heat; add mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, cover the skillet. As soon as the popping stops, add shallots and the prawns in a single layer and cook until the undersides of the prawns turn salmon-pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the prawns and cook until the other side is pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Add water and continue cooking for 1 minute.

Serve immediately on a bed of brown basmati rice.

Note: Lime juice is an acceptable substitute if you can not find tamarind concentrate


About the author: Brian Kitching
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