Hello my Dear Wonderful Readers!!
This time around I am taking you back to my roots. This recipe has been on my ‘to do’ list for quite sometime now but I honestly haven’t had the time to make it. Simply put, this one is a little tough and time consuming to make and for me this recipe is complex.
But just because I said that, please do not be dissuaded from trying this one out. If you have never tasted authentic Prawn Theeyal from Alapuzha, Kerala then trust me, you have missed out on something really unique. This dish does not use a single drop of oil. All its colour, taste, texture, flavour and aroma is derived from the roasted fresh coconuts. The prawns may also be substituted for fish, vegetables or just potatoes and cashew nuts (with certain minor changes to the recipe)
We Malayalee’s have a way of adding coconuts to everything! It’s actually quiet interesting to note that there is not a single part of the coconut tree that gets wasted! Every part finds a very unique use in our culture. The coconut itself is used in almost every Malayalee recipe, the leaves of the coconut tree are used for thatched roofs and chicken huts, the flowers are used in every Hindu Malayalee wedding, the branches are used for cooking fuel, the list is endless! So when I say, I am going to share a Malayalee dish, 99.9% chances are that there is a coconut or two used in the recipe! LOL
Now another thing with this recipe is that, this dish tastes better the day after it is made. Yes! Somehow the flavour just enhances overnight and by the next day the dish has so much more flavour and tastes divine. The recipe is divided into two, first is the roasted spice coconut and then the main dish. The roasted spiced coconut mixture (Araap) can be made in large batches and stored in the freezer. But remember you have to bring the mixture back to room temperature and then heat it a little bit in order to be used again for the recipe. Also fresh coconuts have to be used throughout the recipe an not the dry dehydrated kinds.
Ingredients for the Araap / the roasted spiced coconut mix
- Coconut – 1 large (grated fine)
- Dry Red Chilli – 4- 5
- Fenugreek Seeds – 4 – 5 seeds
- Coriander Seeds – 1 tbsp
- Curry leaves – 10 leaves ( fresh)
- Shallots – 10 ( cut into three)
- In a large kadai, add the coconut and start to fry on low heat. Make sure to stir constantly and on low so that you do not burn the coconut. Roast the coconut evenly till light brown
- Then add the rest of the ingredients and fry till the coconut is golden brown to a little dark brown
- At this time you will be able to smell the coconut roast and the spice also emit a wonderful pungent aroma (it takes around 15 – 20 mins, be patient and ensure the heat is on low)
- At this stage turn off the flame and let the mixture cool down
- When the mixture is just a little about room temperate, empty into a mix jar and blitz on medium
- Do not add water to the mixture
- Open the lid at every one min interval and give contents of the jar a nice stir
- Finally you will see the mixture begin to become wet! that is because of the oil that comes out of the roasted coconut. This is key to the recipe. Make sure to blitz till you achieve a nice paste-like consistency
- Your Araap is ready!
Now to assemble the main dish
- Prawns – 1 kg – de shelled, de veined
- Coconut Pieces – 1 from one coconut ( cut to small rectangles)
- Green Chilli – 3
- Tamarind Paste – 3 tbsp
- Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
- Water – 1 cup ( divided into 3)
- Place a khadai / Mann Chatti on medium flame.
- Then add the turmeric and 1/3rd of the water
- Once the water is hot add the coconut, green chilli and tamarind paste and bring to a boil
- Then add the prawns and cook for 5 mins
- Finally add the Araap to the mixture in the Mann Chatti and add a little more water
- Cover the pot and let it cook for another 5 mins
- Now if you see that you do not have enough gravy, add rest of the water and cook for 2 mins
- You will see the gravy thicken and turn from light yellow to golden dark brown
- Your Theeyal is ready!
- Serve with hot rice or crisp dosa 🙂