Keralan Prawn Soup

Keralan Prawn Soup

I have been longing to make this Keralan prawn soup by Roopa Gulati! It needed a special occasion and the occasion was the older offspring's last home-cooked dinner before returning across the water. In her introduction to the recipe Roopa writes: "This fragrant soup takes the best ingredients from a cottage garden in the southern Indian state of Kerala." I'm not sure that you'd find king prawns or coconut (milk and cream) in your Keralan cottage garden, but perhaps you would find mustard seeds, coriander (seeds and leaves), fenugreek seeds, red chillies, garlic, root ginger, curry leaves, onions and lime. For everything else, go to your Keralan shops.

Keralan prawn soup
This was one of those recipes where most of the effort goes into the preparation. I had to roast then grind peppercorns with the three different types of seeds. After that I chopped and processed the red chillies, garlic and ginger. Then the real cooking began: the curry leaves and onions were cooked, the chilli paste was stirred in, and the ground spices were added. In went some fish stock and I left it to simmer for about twenty minutes. The last few steps involved stirring in coconut milk and the prawns before finishing with the coconut cream, coriander leaves and lime juice.

I called the three lads. They dragged themselves away from the Olympics and entered the kitchen commenting favourably on the aromas. I warned them that the soup was very spicy and hot as I dished it up. We tucked in. Everyone enjoyed it - Roopa has been rehabilitated and there's another notch on the "make again" list. Roopa does warn that if you don't want the soup to be too spicy, omit the chilli seeds. I left them in and the younger offspring was no match for the soup. He ate the prawns and then his older brother willingly took over. A gold medal soup.

Honey-Dipped Points

Another recipe I had on the go while making the prawn soup was honey, cinnamon and saffron ice cream from the Kaul sisters' Indian cookery book. I had hoped the ice cream would have set so that we could have it for pudding, but I'd left it too late. Anyway, I tasted it once I'd combined all the ingredients and thought there was something about the taste. The spouse tried some and commented immediately on the taste of saffron. That was it! Next time, I'll use a little less saffron.

Last week I started to re-read Harold Acton's memoir of Nancy Mitford. Eighty-six pages in and I'm tired of it. Anyway, here comes the honey in a quote from one of Nancy's letters, dated 8th July, 1951:

Evelyn [Waugh] got a cable while I was with him asking for 800 words about me for U.S.A. He wrote it at once and it was so beautiful I blubbed, nothing but pure distilled honey. 
I'd better finish now. Things to do, books to read, reports to write.



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