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Prawn Chettinad

I love South Indian food! Growing up in North India, one merely associates South Indian food with idli – dosa or vada sambar… categorizing it as breakfast food or snack attacks! What’s worst it is mostly bucketed as vegetarian food. While all those remain my favorites… through my friends and travels, I have been fortunate to be introduced to a gamut of flavors and mouth watering dishes, from the subtle manga curry to the spicy chettinad.

This is one of my quick fix go to crowd-pleaser! If you have a coffee grinder, then this will be a wiz to make and mouth full of flavor. Today I was in a mood to create a full spread so went on to make uttapams too. But I do think this dish goes best with simple steaming hot rice.

200 Calories per serving 4 servings

Preparation time 10 minutes

Cooking time 20 minutes

Lets get cooking!

1 pound prawns (headless and de-veined)

1 medium onion

1 inch ginger peeled

3 cloves garlic

1 large tomato

Handful of fresh curry leaves

1 teaspoon Black mustard seeds

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon ghee

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon Turmeric

Chettinad spice mix

  • 2 tablespoons Coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 6 Dry red chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon Carom seeds (ajwain)
  • 1 Star anise
  • 2 Black Cardamom pods (only the seeds inside)
  • 1 inch Cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 6 Black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds (methi)
  • 1 teaspoon Poppy seeds
  • 1/2 inch Mace (javitri)

Step by step, on how to zoom through this recipe

The spice level of the dish can be moderated, just add however much of the mix you want.

It seems de-veining is just a personal choice. In my home we always did it… so I continue to do the tedious task (as I am too cheap to pay for the de-veined ones)! You may find it a bit gritty if you don’t de-vein but you will probably not notice it. I think its a mental thing for me. Knowing that I would be eating the intestines and all the sand the prawn had been eating makes me check that the prawns are cleaned well. Here is some science stuff! I de-vein both front and back, dorsal and ventral side, that is the digestive system and the nervous system!

  1. Take the cleaned de-veined shrimp and toss them with turmeric, salt and set aside. (Tip on how much salt! I like to just lightly season all around surface area)
Digestive tract taken out

2. In a small dry heavy bottom frying pan dry roast all the spices under the Chettinad spice mix. Stir the spices while its one medium to high heat till a toasty aroma of the spices hits you. The mix will be slightly browned and just releasing the flavors. (3-4 minutes)

3. Transfer the cooled spice mix to a coffee grinder and form a powder.

Picture taken from Archana’s kitchen (

4. Take the onions and tomato cut into 4 pieces, transfer to a blender or a food processor or a smoothie maker. Add the ginger and garlic to it and wiz it into a paste. Try not to add any water.

5. In a pan heat 2 tablespoon oil and fry the onion, tomato, ginger garlic mix on a medium flame. Add salt and cover while cooking.

6. Cook till the onions have turned color to a golden color. If the oil dries out add a few teaspoons of water. Cover and cook till the onions are thoroughly cooked.

4. Transfer the fried onion tomato paste into a bowl.

5. In the same pan heat the tablespoon of ghee on medium heat. When hot add the mustard seeds and curry leaves.

6. Wait till the seeds start spluttering. Should only take a minute. Add the prawns and then add about 1/3 to half of the spice mix and give it a toss. The outside of the prawns will get quickly cooked in 2-3 minutes. (If you want it very spicy you can add the whole thing)

7. Add back the onion tomato mix and add 1/2 cup of water to cook the spice.

8. Stir, and cook for 3 minutes covered and then transfer the prawns out of the pan. This is so the prawns don’t over cook. If you don’t add any water the dish is done at this stage.

9. I had to reduce the gravy, to get the thick consistency. (this took another 5 minutes)

10. Dish it up… give me some spicy yum!

Chettinad prawn curry with Carrot, bell pepper, onion and tomato uttapam and left over carrot zucchini sambar

3 thoughts on “Prawn Chettinad

  1. Picturesque and yummy. Loved it a lot. As if I could feel the taste in the mouth. Keep it up. Like a bit of science here and there, can you put a bit of history as well. For example, a liner or two on the legacy of Chettinard cooking and delicacy, etc. Good journey of sharing. Keep going.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The Chettinad prawns recipe is mouth watering, I know of chettinad chicken which I had in a rush in Coimbatore but prawns I need to try specially because of your elaborate step by step recipe. I would prefer to have it with aapam. But that is another delicacy I believe.
    A suggestion from a Bong do share typical Bengali delicacy recipes.

    Liked by 3 people

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