Mangalorean prawn ghassi

Mangalorean prawn ghassi

I Love India
Martin Poole

Mangalorean food is so delicious, yet still undiscovered on this side of the world. I was introduced to it at the house of a friend, who had a Mangalorean lady coming to cook for her on occasion. She made a fish curry and it was just so delicious, it got me curious. I had some more Mangalorean food in restaurants in Bombay, but it was only when I got married that I found out more about it. The lady who was co-ordinating the marriage for the hotel was Mangalorean and, over the time it took to plan the wedding, I had learned a lot more. She also gave me a cookbook one of her relatives had written, to help me to understand it properly. I have since fallen in love with the food of this region… I haven’t tried a bad dish yet. I have simplified this recipe to appeal to busy cooks. Serve with Simple, Perfect Rice or Skinny Rice Dosas.


Quantity Ingredient
500g raw prawns, shelled and deveined, but tails left on
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, plus more for the prawns
3-4 teaspoons vegetable or coconut oil
1 rounded teablespoon coriander seeds
good pinch fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
15 black peppercorns
3-6 dried kashmiri chillies, (less hot than normal dried chillies), or 2–4 regular dried chillies
115g grated fresh coconut, (find it fresh in many supermarkets, or frozen in Asian stores)
2 onions, 1 finely chopped, 1 quartered
5 large garlic cloves
20g roughly chopped root ginger, (peeled weight)
chilli powder, to taste (optional)
21/2 tablespoons tamarind paste, or to taste


  1. Wash the prawns well, apply a little salt and turmeric, and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a small pan and gently roast the coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and dried chillies. Once they have darkened a little and are aromatic, scrape straight into a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  3. Place the spice powder into a blender with the coconut, the quartered onion, garlic, ginger, the ½ tsp ground turmeric, the tamarind and enough water to help the blades turn, and blend until very smooth; it might take a few minutes to get it smooth, but persevere.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick pan, add the chopped onion and some salt and sauté until coloured on the edges. Add the paste and sauté for 10–12 minutes or until it releases oil back into the pan; it will stick so do keep an eye on it and stir as necessary. Then stir-fry for another 4–5 minutes or so over a high-ish flame until it moves around in a ball around the pan. Taste, it should be harmonious. Add chilli powder to taste, if required.
  5. Add 480ml water and stir well as you bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat a little and simmer for 2–3 minutes. Add the prawns, cover and cook over a medium heat until the prawns are done, just 2–3 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning and the level of tang with tamarind and serve hot.
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