Give me shrimp any day and I am a happy woman! On our recent trip to the Asian Market, we were able to lay our hands on a treasure chest – yes, a chest filled with different kinds of jumbo shrimp. I scooped out plenty of those little monsters into bags and dreamed of making some good, spicy Chemmeen Ularthiyathu.
Chemmeen Ularthiyathu is a dry preparation of Shrimp/Prawns which uses Fish Tamarind (Kudam Pulli). Coconut Slices are often added to increase the quantity of the final dish and it also enhances the taste of the dish. I didn’t have coconut slices but try to use them if you can. These Kerala Style Stir Fried Shrimps have the perfect balance of sourness and hotness. One of the things I have learned about Kerala Cuisine is that you don’t need too many ingredients to make a good dish. This recipe doesn’t use many spice powders but it tastes awesome.
- Shrimp/Prawns (Chemmeen) – 1 lb or 1/2 kg approx
- Lemon Juice – 2 tsp (for cleaning)
- Fish Tamarind (Kudam pulli) – 4 small pieces
- Water – 1/2 cup
For Marinating the Shrimps
- Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
- Red Chilly Powder – 1 tsp (Alter according to your spice tolerance)
- Black Pepper Powder – 1/4 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Sliced Shallots – 1/2 cup
- Slit Green Chillies – 2 or 3
- Crushed/Minced Ginger – 1.5 tbsp
- Crushed/Minced Garlic – 1.5 tbsp
- Curry Leaves – a big sprig
- Small Coconut Slices (Thenga Kothu) – 1/2 cup
For Stir Frying the Shrimp
- Sliced Shallots (Kunjulli) – 1 cup
- Minced Ginger – 1.5 tbsp
- Minced Garlic – 1.5 tbsp
- Curry Leaves – 2 sprigs
- Red Chilly Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Black Pepper Powder – 1/4 tsp
- Kashmiri Chilly Powder – 2 tsp
- Coconut Oil – 2 tbsp
- Mustard Seeds – 1/4 tsp
- Remove the head, shell and tail from the shrimp and devein it. Soak the shrimp in water along with 1 tsp lemon juice for 3-5 minutes. Wash and drain.
- Marinate the shrimps with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp red chilly powder, 1/4 tsp black pepper powder and salt to taste. Using your hands, combine the remaining ingredients (5 to 10) with the shrimp and keep it aside for half an hour.
- Wash the fish tamarind and soak it in 1/2 cup of warm water for 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can microwave the fish tamarind for 30 secs so that it softens.
- Transfer the marinated shrimp to a Meen Chatti (earthern pot) or any deep pan. Wash any left over marinade with a few tablespoons of water and pour it into the chatti/pan. Add the fish tamarind to the pan along with the water used for soaking.
- Cover and cook the shrimp on medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Open the pan and continue cooking on medium-high heat so that most of the gravy dries up. Remove from heat.
- Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil in another pan. Splutter mustard seeds. Throw in the shallots and saute until it becomes translucent.
- Add the ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Continue sauteing so that the shallots begin to brown.
- Reduce heat and add 1/2 tsp chilly powder, 1/4 tsp black pepper powder and 2 tsp Kashmiri Chilly Powder. Saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the cooked shrimps along with it’s masala to the pan. Wipe any leftover masala with a few teaspoons of water and add it to the pan. Add more salt if needed.
- Saute for 7-8 minutes so the prawns are roasted thoroughly.
- Do not discard the heads, shells and tails. You can use it for making Seafood Stock (recipe to follow).