Being born into a Maharashtrian Brahmin family usually means eating chincha-gulachi aamti (tamarind and jaggery based lentils) at least thrice a week. We have tongues that jiggle at the mere thought of tamarind. I love my chaat (Indian street food) a little heavy on the sonth or meethi chutney made from dates and tamarind. When I was pregnant, I ate copious amounts of Geeta’s Puliyogare Gojju. I ate it in rice and I ate it as is. By the spoonfuls. So when days go by without my dose of tamarind, i start having withdrawal symptoms that put PMS to shame. This dish is born out of a similar desperation.

Puli Inji is a Kerala-style chutney made primarily from tamarind and ginger. I decided to use this as a base to build my prawn dish on. I was doing a little victory dance as I cooked it because it was bursting in flavor and doing all the right things to my tongue. I ended up with a tangy sauce just mildly laced with the sweetness of the prawns accentuated by the jaggery and punctuated by the sharp freshness of the root ginger. I ate it with a simple steamed brown rice, but I imagine it would go very well with some lacy Kerala parottas or appams as well. If you like tangy stuff, you will thank me for this!

Puli Inji Prawns (Prawns in Tamarind and Ginger sauce)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cup medium-sized prawns (shelled and deviened)
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 1-inch piece fresh root ginger, julienned
  • 1 green chili, slit
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. tamarind paste dissolved in 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 small betelnut-sized ball of jaggery
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard seeds
  • a pinch asafetida
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Clean and wash the prawns. I like to keep the tails on as they add flavor and look pretty.
  2. Heat oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds, asafetida, turmeric, green chili, ginger, curry leaves, and onions in that order. Saute until the onions turn translucent.
  3. Tip in the prawns and saute for a scant minute.
  4. Add the watered down tamarind paste. Season with salt and cover. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until the prawns are almost done.
  5. Add the jaggery, stir, and reduce until the prawns are completely cooked (about another two minutes) and the sauce just coats the prawns. If you think there’s too much liquid in the wok but the prawns are already cooked, remove the prawns, reduce the sauce, and return the prawns to the work in the last minute or so.
  6. Serve piping hot with steamed rice and a pickle.
  7. Bless me.