Sunday morning, I was deveining prawns in my kitchen. It seemed to take forever. I wondered how many hours in life a person would spend deveining prawns. They must have statistics for that surely, like they have for how many hours in life we spend at traffic signals, how many pads a woman goes through in a lifetime, how many hours people spend on whatsapp debates… Somebody somewhere must have thought of quantifying the time spent on deveining prawns. I made a mental note to google it later when my hands were not yucky.
The deveined pile was still small. I felt I was going too slow. I needed to set myself a goal. I decided I’d have to finish deveining the prawns before I picked up Yuvan from his class. I was quite pleased that I finished in half an hour. I was late to his class by 10 minutes though. I reckoned he would have enjoyed the extra time to run around with his buddy. His bud had left and he wasn’t pleased. It also meant I was late to pick up Hasini too. I braced myself for her grumbling. She didn’t notice me. She painted away and let me wait 10 minutes before she packed up. What do you know?
It happens all the time when I want to fix a bug or send a particularly verbose mail before I go to the restroom. When I finally finish, the restroom is busy.
The reason people spend all that time deveining prawns is because it adds an unbeatable flavour to any dish. I made prawn biryani. Let me tell you this. This Prawn biryani is just about perfect – just spicy enough from the green chillies, fragrant from the whole spices and kissed by the delicate coconut milk goodness. Everyone who ate it loved it. That includes Yuvan, Hasini and my dad. That’s one hard bunch to please. I served it with raita, boiled eggs and tawa fried fish fillets. Let me know if you make this prawn biryani.
- 1/2 kilo Prawn/Shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 400 gm Basmati rice, soaked in water for 20 minutes
- 2 Onions, sliced thin
- 2 Tomatoes, chopped
- 10 Green chillies, sliced lengthwise
- 2 inch ginger
- 8-10 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp Fennel seeds/Saunf/Sombu
- 1/4 cup Yogurt
- 2 tbsp Red chilli powder
- Salt to taste
- 5 tbsp Ghee
- 3 tbsp Cooking oil
- 2 Bay leaves
- 5 Cloves
- 3 Cardamom
- 2 sticks Cinnamon
- 2 Marathi Moggu
- 1 Star Anise
- Coconut milk from 1 whole coconut
- 1/2 cup Coriander leaves, chopped
- Grind ginger, garlic and sombu to a fine paste. Set aside. Extract coconut milk from one whole coconut. Set aside. Clean, shell and devein the prawns and set aside. Note that 1 kilo of prawns after shelling will yield around 500 – 600 gm of prawns. The prawn measure I’ve given above (500 gm) is after shelling. Heat a mug of water and keep it handy.
- Heat a pressure cooker. Add ghee and oil to it. When the ghee melts, add the whole spices – cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise, Marathi moggu and bay leaves. When they turn fragrant, add the ground ginger-garlic-sombu paste to the cooker and fry until they brown a bit. Add a splash of hot water if the paste sticks to the bottom of the pan. Then add the sliced onions and green chillies and fry until the onions start to colour.
- Add the yogurt and mix well. Scrape the bottom of the pan from time to time. Add a dash of hot water whenever necessary to loosen up whatever’s stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add chopped tomatoes and fry for 2 minutes or until the tomatoes turn soft.
- Add the cleaned prawns to the cooker. Add red chilli powder and salt. Mix well. Pour the coconut milk into the cooker and bring to a boil. Lower heat and add the chopped coriander leaves. Add the soaked rice after draining the soaking water. Mix well. Dip your finger into the mixture in the cooker and check that the liquid level above the rice and prawns is about 1 inch. If not, add a bit of the rice soaked water. Mix well. Taste the liquid and adjust seasoning. Close the pressure cooker lid and plug in the weight when the steam starts coming out. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes. Switch off and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Fluff gently with a blunt edged spoon. Serve hot with raita and hard boiled eggs. Enjoy!