Indian cuisine has few overlapping flavours. With such a diverse topography – from snow-capped mountains to arid deserts, from beautiful coastlines to leafy tropical forest – the variety of ingredients here are unlike those in any other part of the world. They are different from one another, even within the country, and this is reflected in the way the cuisine changes as you move from one region to another.
- 500 gm medium-size unshelled prawns, washed
- 400 gm long-grain rice
- 60 gm ghee
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling on the prawns
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 12 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 (1-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 2 medium-size onions, thinly sliced
- 1-2 green chillies, chopped
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1 (2-inch) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- Remove the heads and shells of the prawns. Boil the prawns in water for 20 minutes. Strain to extract 3 cups (720 ml) of stock. If you don’t have 3 cups (720 ml), add enough water to make up the difference.
- Devein the cooked prawns, sprinkle with a little salt, and set aside.
- In a skillet over medium heat, heat the ghee.
- Add the onions. Sauté until light brown.
- Add the cloves, cinnamon sticks, and green cardamom pods. Sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add the garlic and ginger. Sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the tomato, green chillies, and turmeric. Stir-fry until the tomato becomes soft and pulpy.
- Add the prawns. Stir-fry for 2 minutes more until they change colour.
- Add the rice. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Stir in the 3 cups (720 ml) of prawn stock, the coconut milk, salt, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cover the skillet and reduce the heat as needed. Simmer, covered, until the rice is tender.
- Serve hot.
Excerpted with permission from Tiffin, edited by Sonal Ved, Roli Books.