Vivek Singh’s Balchao Prawn

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This is yet another example of playing the hits – a balchao appears at several celebrations, including weddings and at Easter. Although traditionally this is a pickle, meant to be enjoyed for days after it’s been made, it tastes just as delicious fresh and hot! As a celebration dish or even cooked simply on a barbecue, this is and will always be a show-stopper.

Ingredients
For the curry:
4 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
3 red onions, finely chopped
10 fresh curry leaves
2 tablespoons see method for ingredients
3 green chillies, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
11/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons malt vinegar
15-18 large king prawns, head on, slit open and left on the shell
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander

For the spice mix:
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, dry roasted in a pan
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon red chilli powder

Method
1 For the spice mix, mix together the roasted cumin seeds, peppercorns and red chilli powder in a food processor until fine.
2 Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and curry leaves and stir over a medium heat until golden brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste and green chillies and stir for 1 minute. Add the turmeric, followed by the spice mix and sauté for 3–4 minutes until the spices are cooked. Add the salt, sugar and malt vinegar and continue cooking until the oil separates (less than 5 minutes).
3 Remove and cool the mixture. If making for later, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
4 If using immediately, smear the cooked paste on to the king prawns on the flesh side and marinate for 20 minutes while you get your grill or barbecue hot. Simply cook for 3–4 minutes on each side, and serve immediately squeezed with lime and sprinkled with coriander.

Extract taken from Vivek Singh’s Indian Festival Feasts (Absolute Press, £26).Photography © Jodi Hinds
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