Marathi Kolambi Masala (Shrimp with Coconut Sauce and Curry Leaves)

350 gm large prawns shelled and deveined
1 tsp turmeric powder
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
10 curry leaves
1 medium white onion finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (or mild paprika; add a little less if you prefer)
1 tbsp malt vinegar
Pinch of sugar
50 mls coconut milk
Fresh coriander for garnish

for the spice powder:
4 dried red chillies (mild variety)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 inch cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1 star anise
1 tbsp coriander seeds
4 green cardamom (seeds only)
2 black cardamom (seeds only)

for the paste:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion finely sliced
100 gms fresh grated coconut (available in asian stores)

Place the prawns in a bowl with the turmeric and salt. Mix well and set aside while you make the spice powder and paste.

Heat a small frying pan and roast all the spice powder ingredients for 7-10 mins on a low heat. Stir every few minutes until they start to release their aroma and change colour. Cool and grind to a fine powder in a coffee/ spice grinder.

For the paste heat the tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Fry the sliced onion on medium heat for 7-10 minutes. As it starts to turn light brown add the grated coconut. Fry for 12-15 minutes stirring frequently. The coconut will start to change colour to a light brown as well. Turn the heat off. Cool the mix and add to a blender with some water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

To make the curry; heat the oil in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add half the curry leaves letting them splutter for a few seconds. Add the onions and fry on a medium heat for 7-10 minutes. Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes; they will begin to soften. At this stage add the coconut paste and fry for 3-4 minutes it will start to leave oil from the sides of the pan. Add 2 tbsp of spiced powder along with the chilli powder and stir well frying for a couple of minutes.

Now tip in the prawns and cook and simmer for 2-3 minutes until they start to turn opaque and just cooked through. Add the vinegar, sugar and check for seasoning. Also add the coconut milk and the remaining curry leaves. Simmer for a further minute. Turn the heat off garnish with fresh coriander & lemon juice. Serve with a choice of Indian bread or steamed rice.

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