Posted in Good Food, Recipe

Masala Prawns with Cous-cous Chaat, Tamarind Sauce & Coriander Chutney

It is silly season in South Africa, meaning it is those two months before Christmas and the long summer holiday starts and everybody has this feverish necessity to order everything before the schools close on December 6. And this is mainly the reason you haven’t seen a new recipe from me since September! In the mean time I have baked so far over 100 Christmas fruit cakes, God knows how many packets of biscotti, shortbread, ginger biscuits and a host of fresh products such as pestos, pâtés, dukkas and preserves for corporate clients which they give as gifts. This year particular more clients want to give something that their clients can eat and enjoy rather than another branded coffee mug, mouse pad, coaster or ruler! I am not complaining, in fact it is to my benefit. As I am typing here there are two lovely ducks from The Duck Farm in the oven slowly confiting away in ample liters of duck fat to become jars full of Duck Rillettes for another order and some will go to the Pretoria Boeremark as well.

Anyway, decided to share one of my favourite recipes with you and as the title says, it is Indian inspired. During my travels to India in 2005, 2007 and 2009 I made sure that I learned as much as possible from Indian chefs about cooking Indian cuisine, and this dish is an adaptation of some of the street food I enjoyed in Haridwar and Amritsar. This recipe was heavily adapted to suit the more Western tastes of my clients, but the main flavours are there and the dish can be served either as a starter or a main dish. I replaced the puri which is the vessel for the chaat with some crispy potato and chili papads. What I like about this dish, you can serve it hot or cold, I prefer cold during the hot summer months in South Africa. It is refreshing as a cold starter or lunch!

Masala Prawns


For the Tamarind Sauce:

  • 100g Preserved Tamarind (click here for image)
  • 125ml Brown Sugar
  • 250ml Water
  • 5ml Ground Ginger
  • 5ml Ground Cumin
  • 5ml Ground Fennel
  • 1ml Ground Chili

For the Coriander Chutney:

  • 60g Fresh Coriander Leaves
  • 20g Fresh Mint Leaves
  • 10g Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 4 Large Jalapenos
  • 5ml Fresh Ginger (finely grated)
  • 10ml Cumin Powder
  • 5ml Coriander Powder
  • 5ml Fresh Garlic
  • 2ml Black Pepper
  • 5ml Amchoor
  • 10ml Salt
  • 500ml Goat’s Milk Kefir
  • 125 – 250ml Water

For the Masala Prawns:

  • 24-30 Black Tiger Prawns (cleaned with just tails on)
  • 5ml Garam Masala
  • 5ml Turmeric
  • 5ml Smoked Paprika
  • 5ml Amchoor Powder (dried mango powder)
  • 2ml Ground Dried Chili
  • 2ml Garlic
  • 2ml Grated Fresh Ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • Juice of one Lime
  • 30ml Vegetable Oil
  • 125ml Natural Yogurt

For the Cous-Cous Chaat:

  • 300ml Cous-Cous
  • 300ml Water
  • Salt
  • 30g Butter
  • 2 Large Tomatoes, concasse, small dice
  • 1 medium Purple Onion, small dice
  • 1 Large Red Pepper, small dice
  • 3 Medium Jalapenos, small dice

For the Papads:

  • 1 Pack Small Potato & Chili Papads (available from most Indian Spice Shops)
  • 750ml Vegetable Oil for Frying papads

For the Plating:

  • Some chopped chives
  • Fresh coriander leaves
  • More Amchoor Powder
  • 4-6 Plates of your choice


Coriander Chutney: Make this first as it needs some time to cool down and for the flavours to mix and incorporate with each other. Place all the ingredients in a liquidizer, except the water and start to blend, adding water as needed. Remember chutney in India is not the same as the thick, syrup varieties we know. It is more or less very runny and watery, but packed with flavours. It is usually also savoury and not sweet. Once blended, keep in a bottle in the fridge till needed later.

Prawns: Place your prawns and all the ingredients except the yogurt in a large bowl and mix well so that all the prawns are covered by the spices, oil and lime juice, cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for about an hour or two. Once you have prepared the Tamarind Sauce and the Cous-Cous Chaat, you are ready to fry your prawns now. Put a little oil in a hot pan and sear the prawns about a minute on each side, removing them as they are done and allow to cool in a tray. Once you are finished there should be a little oil and spices and some water from the prawns left in the pan. Turn the heat to medium and add the yogurt and a little salt if too fresh. Initially it will look as if the sauce is going to split, but just keep cooking for a while and you’ll see it all starts to come together. Once the sauce reaches this stage, remove and pour over the already prepared Cous-Cous Chaat, mixing it through. This will wet the cous-cous and help it to stick together, making plating easier.

Tamarind Sauce: Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan and allow to come to vigorous boil, turn heat down to a gentle boil and allow the sauce to reduce by two thirds, this takes about 10 minutes. If you place some of the sauce on a plate and draw the back of spoon through it, it should take about 10 seconds for the path to close again. Once reduced, pass through a fine sieve and discard the pulp. Pour the sauce into a squeeze bottle. Set aside allowing the sauce to cool down.

Cous-Cous Chaat: Put the water in a large pan with some salt and the butter and bring to the boil. Once boiling add the cous-cous, remove from the heat, place a lid on and allow the cous-cous to steam. Once steamed and colled off, add all the diced vegetables and mix well. Set aside to cool down.

Papads: Heat the oil in a pot and quick fry the papds until light and crisp, this takes seconds to do. Drain on paper towels.

To Plate:

  1. Start by setting the Cous-Cous Chaat tower with a small food ring on your plate.
  2. Put a good squeeze of the tamarind sauce in the opposite corner and with the back of a teaspoon draw it towards the cous-cous tower.
  3. Pack the prawns in a row next to the tamarind sauce and place one prawn with its tail poked into its flesh on top of the tamarind pool.
  4. Spoon some of the chutney around the base of the cous-cous tower.
  5. Place a few papads in the open corner of your plate opposite the cous-cous tower.
  6. Sprinkle some chives and amchoor over the cous-cous tower.
  7. Scatter the coriander leaves around the plate and serve!

I serve more of the chutney in separate bowls as people always ask for more!