School starts in less than a week from now and I am enjoying the last bit of freedom from the routine. I literally sailed through last week without cooking at home as we ate out almost everyday at malls where I took the kids for their fun activities. Along with my cousin and her kids we must have sampled food from every possible outlet in the food court (okay! I am exaggerating!). Anyway, the point is that I am glad that I actually got a break from the kitchen and I am not complaining. Being out of the home for several hours on a daily basis also meant that I didn't have any time to open my laptop or get back to serious blogging. For those of you have felt my absence and enquired about me, thanks so much! It feels good to know that I am being missed and that you are eager to see me back with some new recipes and stories.
I am happy that ever since I returned from Mangalore I have been able to accomplish many things that I always wanted to. Besides enrolling my son in a couple of after school activities I also got myself a membership at the local library. Despite the fact that I lugged back tons of books from India which I don't know when I will finish reading, I still wanted to join a library and benefit from it. There is something so special about libraries and my earliest memory takes me back to the day when my mum had taken me to the tiny government library near my house and got me a membership. That day my mother passed on her passion of reading to me and I will never forget those memories of standing near the rusty shelf filled with Enid Blyton books and I remember picking Noddy as my first reading companion.
Being a government library the registration fee was Rs. 5 and there was no borrowing fee unlike private libraries that charged a rupee or two as a reading fee on every book you borrowed. However, at my library one could borrow just two books at a time. I can never forget the dark interiors of that little place which hardly had any windows. There was a small verandah where mostly older men sat for hours browsing through the newspapers and other 'serious' magazines while I always headed to the corner that held children's fiction.
There was something pleasant yet unpleasant about the library. Perhaps the fact that the librarian never smiled (ever!) was what didn't make the place too warm and welcoming but then the love of books and the fact that they were made accessible to my neighbourhood was a blessing in itself. Add to it the wonderful 'book smell'. Just flipping through the books to breathe in the wonderful fragrance would set things right for me. It still does. All I have to do is open some books and look for that familiar book smell and I get transported back to my childhood. And yeah, this is one of the main reasons why I don't like reading e-books!
I think it was such a coincidence that my son got his first library membership when he is exactly the same age as I was then. He was as thrilled as I was and I am sure that as a book lover he will value and treasure this experience as much as I do. I am glad that I introduced him to books when he was as little as six months old and the love for them has only grown over the years. I strongly recommend this to parents of young ones - do buy them books, especially to toddlers and don't discourage them even if a book simply means tearing up some pages. Newspapers are a wonderful and cost effective way to get your child to familiarise with the print media and sooner or later they will develop a taste for it.
So coming back to today's recipe, ever since I discovered that I could eat prawns the hubby has been trying out something or the other to tickle my tastebuds. This dish was something that he tasted at a friend's place a few months ago and tried to recreate by using the same trick as of the schezwan sauce
he prepared at home. This recipe calls for soaking and grinding of whole red chillies which not only impart a great flavour but also a fiery taste to the final dish. This dish tastes wonderful even with plain, steamed rice. Food for the soul, truly!
Prep time: 15mins | Cook time: 15 mins | Serves 2-3
- 500 grams medium size prawns (approximately 25) - deveined and cleaned
- 10 long dry red chillies (deseeded)
- 3 medium size onions, sliced horizontally (cut breadthwise and cut into crescent shaped slices)
- 1 large onion cut into large cubes
- 1 green or red capsicum, cut into medium size cubes
- 2 medium sized tomatoes, pulp removed and cut into medium size cubes
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp garam masala powder
- a large bunch (approx 1 cup) of coriander leaves (finely chopped)
- juice of half a lime
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 tablespoons ghee
1. Soak the deseeded chillies in hot water for half an hour, then grind them to a fine paste. *see notes
2. Heat oil and 1 teaspoon of the ghee in a heavy based wok/kadhai and fry the horizontally cut onions till they are translucent. Toss in the ginger and garlic pastes and fry for about a minute
3. Add the ground chilli paste paste and the powders - cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala and fry till the rawness of the red chili paste goes off
4. Now add the cubed onions, tomatoes, capsicum, and fry for about 1 minute
5. Add the prawns, salt, about three fourths of the chopped coriander leaves and the lime juice. Cover the pan cook till the prawns are done
6. Lastly, add the remaining ghee and garnish with the rest of the coriander leaves. Serve hot.
If grinding a small quantity such as 10 red chillies feels too little for your mixie jar, just double the amount and then just use just half of the quantity (or as per the desired spice level) for this recipe. This paste comes very handy for a lot of recipes so it doesn't hurt to make some extra. Just make sure to store the extra paste in a clean, dry jar and refrigerate it. To extend the shelf life just add a little oil (let it float above the surface of the paste).