Tandoori Prawns

Tandoori Prawns with lime and cilantro on skewersTandoor Oven Dreaming
Long ago, on a continent far, far away, I ate a meal that I can still taste twenty-three years later. I have talked about the trip I took to India a few times through the years, but I don’t think I have specifically talked about the night we went to Trishna in Mumbai. (If I am wrong, I apologize. I ask that you indulge me and let me reminisce…)

I can’t remember what I was expecting food-wise when we decided to go to India. Did I expect some really good curry? Yes. Did I expect to eat it for breakfast? That would be a no. Did I expect the most amazing and uber-authentic hot Chai every morning despite the oppressive heat outside? No. Was it the greatest way to wake up ever? Absolutely one hundred percent, yes.

The fact is there is no way to visit India without tasting some of the best things you will ever taste. I mean Indian spices have been revered for centuries for a reason, right? I was surprised to find that not everything I ate was screaming hot. I mean, sure, there were plenty of chilis involved no matter what we ate.

But, the best thing I ate was super simple—the tandoori crab from Trishna. Known for its amazing seafood, Trishna’s menu is immense, but the crab is the one item on the menu that you just can’t miss. It was essentially an entire crab drowning in butter, some chilis, and an insane amount of garlic. The crab was either cooked in a tandoor oven or in a wok. (I am not completely sure which.) I am certain there was more to it than that because I have tried to recreate the dish but can’t no matter how hard I try. (Guess we just have to go back. Oh darn…)

And despite how fondly we both look back on that dinner, my husband draws the line at installing a tandoor oven in the backyard. He’s no fun…

The one dish I have been able to recreate from that night is the Tandoori Prawns. So much flavor!! Full disclosure, the prawns we ate were giant Indian Ocean tiger prawns. You would be hard-pressed to find some here but definitely opt for a larger prawn to make these, though medium prawns will work too, especially for a crowd.

Tandoori Prawns Recipe
Yields 4 servings

These Tandoori Prawns are fairly quick and easy to throw together and make a nice change of pace for a mid-week dinner when the temperatures go up.

For the Shrimp
1 pound shrimp (tiger prawns preferred) shelled and deveined, with tails on
bamboo skewers soaked in water before using
oil for basting
1/2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 lime cut into wedges

For the Marinade
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated or crushed fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon garam masala or make your own (see below)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
red coloring optional

Make the marinade
Mix all the ingredients of the marinade in a bowl.

Marinate the shrimp
Stir to combine well. Add the shrimp to the marinade and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes— or best for two hours.

Make the skewers
Thread the shrimp onto the bamboo skewers, and set aside.

BBQ the shrimp
Grill the shrimp on a grill on both sides, until they are cooked and slightly charred on the surface. Baste with oil while grilling.

To serve
Remove from the grill, garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve immediately with lime wedges.

Garam Masala Recipe’
Adapted from Indian Healthy Recipes

1/4 cup coriander seeds
1/8 cup cumin seeds
1 tablespoon green cardamom pods
1 tablespoons cloves
1-1/2 teaspoons black peppercorn4 pieces Ceylon cinnamon (approx 3 inches each)
1 star anise
2 dried bay leaves

Roast the spices
Roast the cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon, anise, and bay leaves on low heat making certain they don’t burn. You will know they are ready when they become aromatic and crunchy. Transfer to a large plate.

Add the coriander seeds to the pan and roast on low heat until they turn slightly deep golden or light brown. Be careful not to burn them. They will release the aroma when they are ready. Transfer to a plate.

Repeat with the fennel seeds and then the cumin.

Grind the spices
Add all the spices to a grinder and grind at intervals of 40 to 60 seconds until they are finely ground. If there are still larger bits, sieve the garam masala and re-grind the larger pieces before adding them to the sieved masala.



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