Chemmeen Choru – Kerala Style Spicy One Pot Shrimp Rice

There are days when all I need is a dance of flavours from Kerala on my palate. This recipe does that for me. It is a one pot shrimp rice that is almost like a little glimpse into the vibrant cuisine of my hometown. The coconut oil, the ginger, garlic, green chillies and curry leaves along with fresh prawns make this dish an absolute delight for anyone craving for a bit of Kerala for lunch or dinner.

Things you will need:

(Serves 3-4)

  • Jumbo Prawns- 18-20 , cleaned, deveined and the tails preferably left on
  • Good quality long grained Basmati rice- 2 cups
  • Water- 4.25 cups
  • Onions- 1 large or 2 medium sized, sliced finely
  • Tomato- 2 small, chopped
  • Ginger- 1 inch stick, julienned (it’s nice to have a little bite of fresh ginger in this dish)
  • Garlic- 4-5 cloves, minced (if you are using the large variety, 2 large cloves will do)
  • Green chillies- 4-5 slit lengthwise
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder- 1 heaped tablespoon
  • Coriander powder- a little less than 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
  • Ground black pepper- ½ teaspoon
  • Juice of half a lime or 1 tablespoon vinegar for the acidity
  • Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
  • Green cardamom- 3 pods
  • Cloves- 3
  • Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
  • Coriander leaves, chopped for garnish
  • Coconut oil- 2 tablespoons
  • Ghee- 1 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

How to go about it:

  1. First, wash the Basmati rice twice, soak for 10 minutes and strain well. Keep it aside.
  2. Marinate the prawns in a bit of salt and the black pepper. Keep aside.
  3. Place a wok or deep pan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves and move it all around for a minute. Next, add the sliced onions and half the curry leaves. Saute the onions well until they are nice and golden brown.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic and green chillies and saute them for 30 seconds. The raw smell must go and the fresh flavour of these ingredients will be released in the hot coconut oil.
  5. Next, add the tomatoes. Give it all a quick mix and keep the wok closed for 2-3 minutes or until the tomatoes soften up and can be mashed with the back of the spatula.
  6. Add the chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric. Add salt to taste. Fry the spices and the mixture for 2-3 minutes until the mixture darkens in colour and it all begins to look homogeneous. Add the lime juice and mix well.
  7. Next, place the marinated prawns and the remaining curry leaves in the wok and mix well to ensure the masala coats all the prawns evenly. After that, keep the wok closed for 7-9minutes. It is important that the prawns are not overcooked to ensure the best results for this recipe. After 7-9 minutes (or once the prawns are cooked), open the wok and you will see that they are cooked and that they have released some water which is the base flavour in which we’ll be cooking the rice.
  8. Now. Important. With a small spoon, take just the prawns out of the wok. Leave the masala mixture behind. This is to ensure that we don’t over cook them. Keep them aside.
  9. Next, add a tablespoon of ghee to mixture. Mix well. Empty the strained and now dry rice (yes, the raw rice) into the wok and mix well. Please be careful while you mix as the grains of rice will now be brittle because of the soaking. Do it lightly to ensure you don’t break the grains.
  10. In the meantime, bring the water to a rolling boil separately.
  11. The rice must be fried for about 2nminutes or until the grains feel slightly crunchy to the touch.
  12. Add the boiling water and mix well. Increase the heat to a high. Add more salt as required for the entire dish. Stir carefully and allow the rice to cook with the wok kept open. Allow almost all the water to evaporate and there is but a light moisture remaining. The rice will now be al dente. Take the wok off the heat.With the help of a fork, lightly stir up the rice to loosen the grains. DO NOT stir the rice unnecessarily. Just lightly make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  13. Place the cooked prawns on the top of the rice. Sprinkle some freshly chopped coriander leaves on top. Cover the wok and place a heavy weight on top of the lid. I use my mortar and pestle. Allow this to rest on the counter for 20 minutes before serving. This is when the rice cooks completely and the flavours get balanced. So, patience.
  14. Serve warm with raita and pickle. Dig in! 🙂

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