Friday, September 14, 2012

Prawn Rice with Coconut Milk | Goan Kolambi Bhaat

Recently, at our local grocery, I found small Prawns in the seafood section. Its a rare discovery considering that the usually sell the slightly bigger, plump ones which I don't fancy. I made Goan version of Prawn Rice with Coconut Milk. The taste was awesome and I relished it to the core. In US, Prawns are popularly referred to as Shrimps and they sell different varieties - the shelled ones, cooked ones, semi-seasoned ones, de-veined and peeled ones.

I grew up in a community of a seafood lovers and was probably the only vegetarian amongst my friends for the longest time. Shrimps are expensive in India (atleast while I was growing up) and for every birthday party there was Shrimp Rice with Peas. Since I was the only vegetarian I had limited choices but I often wondered why my friends were crazy after Shrimp Rice. They would perpetually haggle and argue over who got more shrimps on their plate. I now know why they did that.  :-)

In GSB Konkani, Shrimps are known as Sungat and Kolambi in Marathi. Few of my favorite Shrimp recipes are Sungta Phanna Upkari (a spicy broth of shrimps cooked in onions and red chillies, Prawn Balchao (a spicy Goan pickle made with Shrimps in a vinegar based sauce), Prawn Koliwada (deep fried spicy Prawns cooked Koliwada style), Shrimp Dangar (a Goan shallow fried cutlet made with Shrimps) and Kolambi Bhaat (Prawn Rice cooked in coconut milk).

One can substitute coconut milk with water, but the taste is a distant departure from the original one. This recipe is from my Maushi from Mapusa, Goa. The days you find a bunch of big Prawns from the fish market, fret not. Just chop them up once cooked. In addition, she adds Tomatoes and Peas which I avoided. A dash of Goan Garam Masala gives the red color. If you omit it, you will get a pale jade like green shade for the rice.

~ Kolambi Bhaat ~
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Shrimp (peeled, deveined and cleaned) - 15-20
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Lime juice - 1/2 tsp
Sea Salt/ Rock Salt
*** Marinate the cleaned Shrimp in all of the above and set
aside for an hour *** 
Rice (Long grain Basmati) - 1 cup
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Coconut Milk - 1 and 1/2 cup
Red Onion (finely chopped) - 1 cup
Peas (cooked) [optional] - 1/2 cup
Tomato (finely chopped) [optional] - 1/2 cup

Cinnamon - 1" stick
Cloves - 3
Star Anise - 1

Goan Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Green Chillies paste - 1 tsp

Coconut oil 
Wash and rinse the Basmati rice. Soak in filtered water for 1/2 hour. Peel, devein and clean the Shrimps with sea salt to get rid of the smell. Pat dry and transfer to a zip lock bag. Add salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and lime juice. Refrigerate for an hour.

In a non-stick pan, heat few spoons of coconut oil. Season with whole spices of Cinnamon, Cloves and Star Anise. Add very finely chopped onions and saute them till they turn reddish pink and wilt down. Add grated coconut now and roast it well. This process takes around 10 minutes. The flame should be on low-to-medium.

Add the ginger paste, green chilli paste and garlic paste now and saute till the raw flavor goes off. Add a hint of Turmeric powder for a golden glow. Add Goan Garam Masala powder and mix well. Add Peas and Tomatoes now and saute well. Fry this paste till the oil oozes off and it becomes semi-dry. Add the marinated shrimps now and toss to have an even coating of masala on the shrimp. Add Rice and toast it well, till you get a nutty aroma. Add 1/2 cup of water to coconut milk and mix well. Add this to rice and masala, mix well. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes, till completely done. Fluff it gently with a fork and leave undisturbed with lid on for 5-8 minutes. Serve warm with Raita.

Note - Sprinkle sea salt on shrimps, mix well and rinse them thoroughly with water. This helps to get rid of the sea smell and you can proceed with cooking thereafter.

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