In our agenda-packed day, sometimes the easiest way is to simply turn to old-reliables; the oversized handbag stuffed with everything, your little black dress, the neighborhood grocery stocked with the basics and token exotics, ready-packed salad greens, or curry powder.
I had planned to make an old-reliable curry dinner tonight. I had fresh prawns in the fridge, coconut cream and curry powder in the pantry. Then I found a clipping from our local paper, The Straits Times, featuring a recipe on Prawn and Squid Moilee, a south-Indian dish that combined the flavors of ginger, turmeric, herbs and chili into a luscious curry. Notice the absence of curry powder on the ingredients list? I was intrigued.
I adapted the recipe, using a kilo of prawns instead of adding squid, but I would recommend both ingredients to transform the dish into a medley of flavors and textures. Listen out for the crackling of the curry leaves as you saute them in your hot pan. As the kitchen fills with the nutty, piquant aroma of the Moilee, I glance at my ever-faithful tin of curry powder and return it to the pantry. Until next time.
Prawn and Squid Moilee
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
2 green chillies, finely sliced
(I deseeded my chillies before slicing for less heat)
1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 sprigs curry leaves, remove from stalks
1 teaspoon chili powder
(I used Asian chili sauce this time)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, optional
500g medium prawns, shelled and deveined
4 squids, cleaned and sliced into rings
550ml coconut cream
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a wok or large pan, saute onions, chillies and ginger over medium-low heat. Stir well and cook for about 5 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.
Add curry leaves and saute for another 3 minutes. Then add chili powder, turmeric and fennel seeds. Mix well and saute for 3 more minutes.
Turn the heat to high and add the prawns. Once the prawns begin to curl, add the squid.
Stir fry for a quick minute, then pour in the coconut cream. As soon as the coconut cream begins to boil, turn the heat to low and allow it to simmer for another 4 minutes.
Season with salt, adding more if necessary. Pour in lime juice and stir well before serving.