Most people think that all curries are very hot. This is NOT true.
There are many variations of curry, from mild to fairly hot to extremely hot, from sweet to sour-ish, from green to yellow to red, from light (“dry”) to thick (“wet”) curry, from vegetarian to seafood to meat curry.
Curry was anglicised (adopted) from the Tamil word “kari”, meaning – simply – “sauce” and curry powder, is (unfortunately) a Western notion of a commercially prepared spiced mixture 😀
The most traditional South Asian curries are paste-based and definitely homemade. Even the powder form are home blended to attain the best result and aroma.
Malaysian curry is quite complex, using several different fresh herbs and dry spices as opposed to some curries using only dry spices or fresh herbs, one or the other. Malaysian curry is largely influenced by the flavours of Southern India while at the same time, intermingling with flavours of South East Asia, which can be rather hot, but fragrant. Curry leaves are commonly added to enhance the flavour of the curry dish. Then there’s the Nyonya curry which includes a secret ingredient, the belacan (dried shrimp paste). Potatoes and fresh tomatoes are often added as final touches to a tasty Nyonya curry. Sometimes pandan leaves (screw pine leaves) are used to aromatize the curry dish.
Being a curry person, I love all kinds of curries. A curry dish is really quite simple to cook.
For this post, I’m concocting a curry dish with prawns using fresh herbs of my choice. No dry spices. This curry dish includes flavours of South East Asia – lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, ginger, coriander roots and fresh turmeric besides the inevitable ingredients of fresh chillies, shallots, onions and garlic. I did not blend the ingredients into a paste but kept them apart for texture.
I used 2 lemongrass (lightly bruised and halved), a handful of kaffir lime leaves (shredded), 3cm piece galangal (sliced), 5cm piece ginger (minced), 6 coriander roots (minced), 3cm piece fresh turmeric (minced), 1 large onion (chopped finely), 4 shallots (chopped finely), 4 cloves garlic (minced) and 2 fresh chillies.
Wait a sec…only 2 chillies?
Well, I did use something else! Something I always have in my fridge.
I added a teaspoon each – to taste of course – of the shrimp paste (which is actually NOT belacan, but fried dried shrimps in bean oil, the Thai way), Malaysian curry powder AND last but not least, the “fiery” Mae Pranom Shrimp Flavor Crushed Chillies. Really, a little goes a long way 😉
And of course, the star of the dish – the Prawns!
If you have counted the number of prawns on the plate, that’s how many prawns I used for this curry dish. Thirty-three prawns 😀
Let’s get started!
Here’s how I cooked my fragrant prawn curry.
Remember there was no curry paste? So what went in first were the chopped ingredients – the onion and shallots. Sauté until fragrant, then add all the minced ingredients – garlic, ginger, coriander roots and fresh turmeric. Keep stirring and then add in the slices of galangal, shredded kaffir lime leaves, curry powder, shrimp paste and the fiery crushed chillies. Then in went 400ml can coconut milk, the lemongrass, potatoes and fresh whole chillies (slit lengthways). Season to taste.
Cook for a few minutes to amalgamate the ingredients in the curry or until the potatoes are par-cooked, then add 3 tomatoes (skinned) and quartered.
Simmer for 2 minutes before adding the prawns
Well, we all know that it is a sin to overcook prawns; that’s why I left the crustaceans last to complete the curry dish. Stir to combine the prawns in the curry sauce. Simmer for a few minutes more.
You will know if the dish is ready when the potatoes and prawns are cooked, and when the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Give the dish a final taste before plating up.
Worth repeating …
This fragrant prawn curry was so good that I will definitely cook it again for sure. It was just perfect the way it should be. I try to avoid using sugar in my curries (which is very common with Thai or Vietnamese curries). I really thought it was not necessary to add sugar as the rich coconut milk gave the dish a subtle sweet taste; furthermore, my other half detests sweet curries.
Oh by the way, both my sons had second helping that day…
Need I say more?
I rest my case 😉
I am submitting this post to Little Thumbs up with the March 2014 theme using “PRAWNS” as the main ingredient hosted by Moon of Food Playground. The LTU blog-hop project is organised by two very talented and superwomen, Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids.
Have a super week!