Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chemeen Thoran - Shrimp/Prawn Masala with coconut

This one is an all time favorite.... I can just eat this - truckloads. It is very spicy, has loads of onions and coconut that gives it the ability to tickle all the varied taste buds. The bigger the prawn, the better it tastes. This can be made in a variety of preparation styles, which I would eventually post here, but this time I had this craving to eat this one and so it was. I did modify the traditional recipe a wee bit... I found an Andhra prawn masala recipe in one of the blogs and I added some extra ingredients based on that. My mother makes this dish devoid of the extra  bit and as you read the recipe, I will tell you which ingredients are a part of the original recipe and which are my inclusions.

The problem with prawns or rather the difficulty in cooking them lies with the initial cleaning and deveining part. Once that is done and you have clean meat in your bowl that's ready to cook, you can churn out wonders. My husband and mom are so fond of prawns that everytime we go out for a meal, we would invariably end up ordering atleast one dish.

It was only the week before that I saw some pics on my ex-colleague's Facebook album - that had yummy prawns and fish curry - I was so tempted that I asked for the recipes and very sweetly, his wife sent me all the recipes immediately. I wanted to make the recipe that she had suggested but that had tomato sauce in it and I was not sure if my in-laws who are visiting me would like a different taste. So i decided to stick to the traditional Thoran (obviously with a few modifications from my end).

Here are the key ingredients that I used:
  • Prawns - de-veined and cleaned - 1 kg
  • Shallots (Small/Sambar Onions)- 300 gms
  • Green Chillies - 4-5 (depending on how spicy you want it to be)
  • Coconut - 1/2 to 3/4 grated (depends on how much you like)
  • Curry Leaves - 3-4 sprigs
  • Ginger finely chopped - 2 inch piece
  • Garlic chopped lengthwise - 10-15 cloves
  • Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Chilly Powder - 1 tsp (adjust it according to your spice level)
  • Salt - to taste
  • Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Coconut Oil - 4-5 tbsp (you can reduce it)
  • Tamarind Paste - 1/2 tsp or Kudam Puli - 1/2 piece *(Optional)
For marinating the prawns (to be ground to a fine paste):
  • Chilly Powder - 2 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - 1 tsp
  • Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 tsp*(Optional)
  • Poppy Seeds (Khus Khus) - 1 tsp *(Optional)
  • Cashew nuts - 1/2 cup *(Optional)
  • Cinnamon - 1 small piece *(Optional)
  • Clove - 1 *(Optional)
Note - The items marked *(Optional) are my additions - traditionally, my parents never added these to the Chemeen Thoran. I wanted to make some variations and hence this. You can prepare it without all these 4 ingredients and trust me, it will only taste yummier!

  • Marinate the prawns with the ingredients above and set aside for 2 hours
  • Heat coconut oil in a vessel, splutter mustard seeds.
  • Add curry leaves, chopped shallots, green chillies, ginger and garlic and fry well.
  • Add the turmeric powder, chilly powder and salt and fry well.
  • Add the marinated prawns and mix well.
  • You may add the tamarind paste or the kudam puli if you want a tangy flavor in the dish.
  • Do not add water as the prawns will bring out water.
  • Cook covered till the prawns are done.
  • Dry the excess water and add grated coconut and mix well.
  • You can remove the Kudam Puli piece after cooking, if you have added it.
  • That's it - Tasty Chemmeen Thoran is ready to be served with rice and roti's!

Note: Apart from cleaning and de-veining the prawns, the tough parts would be to peel and chop the shallots and grate the coconut. An easier alternative would be to use normal onions and exclude the coconut and maybe you may want to substitute the coconut oil with your regular cooking oil - but trust me, it will lose the authentic flavor.


  1. Wow...thoran with a twist..I think the items that are optional is what makes this dish special..I think you should remove the optional bit from there:)..I'm definitely goin to try this..

  2. :) thanks Smitha - try this and lemme know how you liked it!


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