Chemmeen Varattiyathu or Kerala Shrimp Roast is a great side dish best served with parboiled rice/any rice of your choice. I am unsure of which part of Kerala was this dish born but I learn't this from my brother(who is chef by profession). He makes shrimp in ten different ways maybe but for me this tasted the best and I carried on with this the most especially when any guests peeks in. This Prawns roast have an excellent taste with the wonderful aroma of coconut oil and generous amount of curry leaves cooked along with shallots and aromatic homemade garam masala. This prawn roast taste so good that me(and my hubby) tend to eat it with plain rice with out any curry so that we don't loose even the tiny bit of taste of this Prawns Roast.
I used to love the kind of fresh shrimp we used to get in 'Thalassery Fish Market'- my home town and I was totally disappointed by the taste of shrimp I got here in US which are mostly frozen and/or half cooked. My quest to find the fresh fish and shrimp took me to the 'Asian Markets'. For my readers in US who would love to relish the taste of fresh seafood you will find many of them and vegetables in the markets like 'H-Mart', 'Grand Mart' and many more for reasonable price. Just google for the nearest 'Asian Market/Korean Market' and you will be surprised to find the best of them.
Five years back when I was a newly wed my brother-in-law and my husband used to make fun of me seeing me doing the extra labor of peeling and deveining the shrimp when there is an easier option of getting cleaned frozen one's from the stores. First time my BIL tasted these fresh prawn roast he used the word 'amazing' to describe the taste and let me tell you friends he is a person who do not appreciate/accept anything/anyone easily. And from then when ever he plans to drive from Connecticut to Maryland, I get the order for a 'big plateful' of very spicy Shrimp Roast at-least two days ahead :) So friends I understand it is an extra labor to do clean fresh shrimp but if possible try to get the fresh shrimp instead of frozen and you will really know the 'amazing' difference in taste. You can make this medium, spicy and extra spicy by adjusting pepper-garam masala. I used to make this spicy before and this taste better being spicy but now considering my kids I make it medium spicy. So please adjust the spice level according to your family's tolerance level :-)
- Chemmeen/Prawns/Shrimp - 1 lbs
- Kunjulli/Shallots finely sliced - 2 cups
- Green chilly chopped - 2
- Ginger-Garlic crushed - 2 tbsp
- Curry leaves a sprig or more
- Coconut oil(preferably or any oil of ur choice) - 2 tbsp
- Chopped coconut pieces - 2tbsp(small bite pieces)
- Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
- Chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
- Garam masala - 3/4 tsp(I use homemade garam masala and prefer eastern garam masala if I don't have homemade one)
- Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp(Crushed well in a mortar)
- Salt to taste
To Marinate the Prawns
- Cleaned Shrimp
- Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
- Chilly powder - 1 tsp
- Pepper powder - 1 tsp
- Salt - 1tsp(or as needed)
- Peel, devein, wash and clean the prawns. Drain off the water completely.
- Marinate the shrimp with salt, turmeric powder, chilly powder and pepper powder. Set aside for 30 minutes if possible.
- Heat up deep kadai or pan, pour coconut oil and add the coconut pieces and curry leaves and saute for few seconds till they are very light brown(always in medium heat)
- Add the sliced small onion(shallots), green chilies, salt and saute for a minute. Add crushed ginger-garlic and saute till onion turns translucent.
- Add the turmeric powder, chilly powder and stir for a minute till masala powders are combined well with onion and ginger-garlic mix
- Add the prawns and saute till everything is combined well.
- Cover and cook for atleast five minutes without adding water as shrimp releases enough water to cook. Make sure stove remains in medium heat.
- Open the lid add the garam masala and fennel powder. Saute in high heat till garam masala is mixed well evenly and water is fully absorbed if any(aroud two-three minutes.)
- Switch of the stove and add more curry leaves. Drizzle a tsp of coconut oil if desired(I do and like it) and stir well.
- Move to the serving plate and serve warm with rice/roti. Enjoy!!!!!
Note:- If buying the frozen prawns/Shrimp use the uncooked one's. Half cooked(salad prawns) prawns don't taste as good as the uncooked prawns for this recipe..