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Nimmy Paul used small pink prawns for this dish and they were as tender as can be. Kokum – one of the key ingredients – is a small round type of tamarind pod native to South India. Look for it (as a dried version) at Indian Grocers or substitute a small amount of tamarind paste.

Chemeen Recipe

4 Servings


1 lb small prawns or shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 kokum, split
6 curry leaves
½ tsp garlic paste
½ tsp ginger paste
½ tsp green chili paste
1 tbsp coconut oil
½ cup shallots, sliced lengthwise
20 fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
½ tsp turmeric
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt


  1. Marinate the prawns with the kokum, curry leaves and garlic, ginger and chili pastes for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a wok on medium heat.
  3. Add the shallots and 20 curry leaves and cook until the shallots are crispy – about 10 – 15 minutes. Turn the heat off, add the coriander, chili powder, turmeric, pepper and salt and let the mixture rest.
    Tip: the shallots keep a crispy texture this way.
  4. Place the marinated prawns in another wok on medium heat and cook until they turn pink. Add them to the onion mixture with their juices.
  5. Enjoy with freshly cooked appams.

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