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Prawn Moilee, From Dishoom “From Bombay with Love”

by Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar & Naved Nasir (Bloomsbury)

Photography Haarala Hamilton

This is Naved’s special dish at Dishoom Covent Garden. It’s a light, fragrant and utterly delicious south-Indian-style curry, packed with juicy prawns and tempered with coconut milk. Although it looks impressive, it is actually very easy to make, so you can serve it either as a week-night supper or as an indulgent dinner. We serve it with idiyappam, the white, lacy noodle pancakes, also known as stringhoppers. If you can’t get these, it goes just as well with steamed rice.

Serves 4


6 green chillies

55ml vegetable oil

2 tsp mustard seeds

30 fresh curry leaves

300g Spanish white onions, sliced (a little chunky is good)

15g garlic paste (see recipe below)

15g ginger paste (see recipe below)

2 tsp fine sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1¼ tsp ground turmeric

25g fresh root ginger, cut into matchsticks

400ml coconut milk

250ml coconut cream

24 large prawns

300g medium tomatoes, cut into small bite-sized wedges 

To Serve

Lemon wedges


1.    Remove and discard the stalks from the chillies, then slice each one into 3 or 4 long strips. Set to one side. 

2.    Place a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add 40ml of the oil, let it warm for a few seconds, then add the mustard seeds and 20 curry leaves. Let them crackle for a few seconds.

3.    Add the onions and sauté lightly for 12–14 minutes, until soft but not coloured.

4.    Add the garlic and ginger pastes, salt, black pepper and turmeric and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the sliced chillies and ginger matchsticks and cook for 3 minutes.

5.    Pour in the coconut milk and cream and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6.    While the curry is simmering, place a small frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tbsp oil. Toss in the rest of the curry leaves and fry for 1 minute, until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside. 

7.    Add the prawns and tomatoes to the sauce and simmer gently for a further 5–6 minutes, until the prawns are cooked; do not overcook or they will be tough. 

8.    Serve scattered with the fried curry leaves, with lemon wedges on the side.

Note:If you’d like to prepare the dish in advance, make the sauce (up to and including step 5), chill and refrigerate, then reheat and continue from step 6 just before serving.

Garlic & Ginger Pastes

The recipe is the same for either paste.  You can start with whole garlic cloves or ginger root each time, but it is much easier to keep pre-prepared jars of paste in the fridge.  Home-made pastes will yield a more satisfying result than supermarket bought (but won’t keep for quite as long).

The quantity given below is sufficient for a mini food processor or blender.  You can, of course make more, or less.

Providing you start with garlic & ginger that is fresh (not stale or dry), pack the paste into sterilised jars & cover the surface with a layer of oil, these pastes should keep in the fridge for 10 days.

Makes about 170g

3 garlic bulbs or 180g fresh root ginger

25ml vegetable oil, plus extra to store the paste

1.    Peel your garlic or ginger completely & roughly chop.

2.    Using a mini food processor or blender, blitz the garlic or ginger with the oil to a smooth paste.  The oil should be enough to loosen the mixture, if it seems too thick add 2-3 tsp water.

3.    Place in a clean, sterilised jar & cover the surface with a thin layer of oil.  Store in the fridge & use within 10 days.

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