A Bengali classic this seafod dish has delicate and mellow flavours and the prawns slow cooked inside the coconut are as soft as butter. Serve with hot boiled rice. Buy a tender water or paani wala coconut that fits your steamer. Have the sides shaved down a bit and the top partly slice off so you can pry it open when preparing the prawns. For those new to this dish I recommend the first time you make half this recipe with smaller, less expensive prawns. Even if you don’t eat the prawn heads please add them to the gravy for flavour. For the recipe video please visit instagram @deshpandetara
INGREDIENTS SERVES 4
2 large tender coconuts
2 medium white onions peeled and pureed (1 cup onion paste)
6 Indian Green chillies stalks removed (or more as per taste)
2 tbsp garlic ginger paste
2 tbsp white poppy seeds
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1/2 cup tender coconut meat (only white)
1/2 cup coconut milk
12 Bengal tiger prawns cleaned, half butterflied, heads and tails intact (1 kg)
1-1.25 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tbsp Mustard oil plus more for drizzling
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour plus water to make a dough
METHOD: Combine water and flour and make a smooth dough. Cover and reserve.
Remove the shell surrounding the prawns keeping the tail end intact. Discard the shell. Separate heads from the prawns and reserve.
Rub prawns with turmeric and keep refrigerated while you prepare remaining ingredients.
Combine both mustard seeds and poppy seeds with 1/2 cup of tender coconut water and let sit 15 minutes.
Pry open the partially sliced tops of both tender coconuts and drain out the coconut water into a cup. Using a spoon scoop out the tender coconut. Reserve.
Heat vegetable oil and half the mustard oil in a hot pan on medium heat. Saute onions until dry but do not brown. Add garlic ginger paste and saute till fragrant. Switch off the flame and cool.
Grind the onion paste with chillies, 1/2 cup of tender coconut until smooth.
Drain the mustard seeds completely and discard the water. Grind seeds until smooth. Add as little liquid as possible.
Add the onion chilli garlic paste to the poppy seeds mixture and grind till completely smooth. Add 2 teaspoon salt and continue to grinder until spice paste has no grittiness.
Taste and adjust for salt and spiciness. Add more green chillies for extra zing.
Rub this paste all over the prawns.
Divide the prawns between both coconut gently lowering them into the coconut cavity. Then add as many prawn heads as possible into each cavity. These will bring a deep flavour to the gravy.
Divide the coconut milk and remaining mustard oil between the 2 coconuts.
Divide dough in half and roll each half into a long rope. Circle to rope around the mouth of the coconut cavity then press the lid over it until the lid is firmly attached to the coconut base.
Fill steamer with water. Steam both coconuts for 2.5 hours on a medium flame in covered steamers. it is essential to slow cook these prawns. Do not use a pressure cooker.
Remove one coconut from the steamer. The dough should be hard and even browned partially from the cooking. Discard the dough and coconut tops and check if prawns are cooked. If not reapply new dough and return to steamer. If tender and cooked serve the prawn curry over plain boiled white rice.