Coconut is a frequently used ingredient in curry across the Indian subcontinent and, consequently, Britain. In my experience, most British proponents of the coconut tend to use the desiccated variety, which perfectly acceptable. However, though acceptable, desiccated coconut lives up to its name through lack of moisture, passion and interest. Indeed, until you’ve dabbled in fresh, you’ve never properly experienced coconut.
Nothing beats the texture, flavour or creamy quality of fresh coconut. Of course, it can be a bit of a battle extracting the pure white flesh of this well-armoured drupe, but once laid bare in a fresh coconut and prawn curry, you’ll never look back. Life will never be the same again.
Inspiration for this recipe came directly from the glossy dome of Rick Stein – seafood specialist extraordinaire – and his wonderful new series on Indian cuisine. Though doused in far less wine than the international escapades of the late Keith Floyd, Rick Stein’s take on India is thoroughly delightful learning experience in the same vein. Who knows if it’s available outside the UK, but if it is you’ll learn a thing or two.
Fresh Coconut and Prawn Curry
• A little whole spice (2 cardamom pods, 2 pepper corns, a little cinnamon bark, 2 cloves)
• A generous slug of mustard oil
• 2 tsp mustard seeds, made into a paste with water in a pestle and mortar
• 2 onions, finely sliced
• 2-3 green chillies, roughly chopped
• 2 tsp freshly ground cumin
• ½ tsp turmeric
• 2 coconuts, freshly grated
• 600ml water
• 1 tsp salt
• 12-18 large or king prawns
• 2 tsp garam masala
• Fresh coriander
1. Heat the oil in a large wok (or similar), add in the whole spices to help flavour the dish. Tip in the onions followed by the mustard seed paste and cook for 5-10 minutes until verging on the golden brown.
2. Add the chillies, cumin and turmeric and cook for a little longer before adding the coconut and two thirds of the water. Cover the pan over with a plate or lid and cook for 20-30 minutes on a medium heat.
3. Season with the salt, add more water if necessary, scatter over the prawns and garam masala and stir thoroughly. Ensure the prawns and cooked through and scatter with fresh coriander before serving.
Cost: Prawns aren’t the most cost effective meat out there, but as mentioned in a previous post can be found at a thoroughly reasonable price if one searches. Fresh coconut is also a little more pricey than its desiccated counterpart – totally worth it. As such, this dish should set one back around £5.50. If you’d like to make it a little cheaper, a meaty white fish would do the trick just nicely.