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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Silverbeet and Prawn Curry

This is my take on a classic Indian home-style dish - Prawn and saag (pronounced ‘sarg’). Indian restaurants will use spinach as their saag  and this gives a mellow deep flavour to the dish.  My vegie patch always sports prolific growth of Silverbeet or Swiss Chard.  In the peak of summer I have rainbow chard in abundance and the garden looks alight with the vivid stalks of deep red, orange and yellow.  My recipe takes the best of my garden, and in this case it is the Silverbeet, and uses it to create a mouth-watering curry that has a balanced level of sharpness from the Silverbeet.  And it's pretty easy to make too and is great to serve with steamed rice or naan bread.  The hardest part is getting some "Paanch Phoran" a combination of 5 (Paach in Hindi) whole spices - nigella seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds, available at Indian grocers or you can make your own mix.  PS I have a big batch of Paach Phoran at home at the moment – so if you wanted to catch up with me I will be happy to give you some.

1 kg x Prawns shelled and de-veined (reserve heads for later)
1 tsp x Turmeric
3 tbsp x Cooking oil
1-2 large bunches Silverbeet (Swiss Chard) remove centre stalk and chop roughly
1 tbsp x Paanch Phoran mix (see description above)
2 x Onions diced
1/2 x bunch Coriander (stems intact)
2-3 x large Garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 x 1in piece of Ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp x Chilli Paste (more if you like it hot)
Salt to taste
Lemon or lime juice
Place prawns in a glass bowl and dust with turmeric
Add a little salt and mix prawns coating well with spice
Heat a tbsp of oil in a large wok and stir fry prawns on high heat till they are almost done then remove from wok and keep aside
Add another tbsp of oil to the wok and reduce to medium heat
Place 1 tbsp of Paanch Phoran spice mix in hot oil stir for 10-20 seconds to avoid burning
Add chopped silverbeet and stir fry gently turning leaves allowing to wilt slightly
Cover wok and simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes
Meanwhile prepare the masala paste in a food processor
Place coriander leaves and stalks into blender bowl with chopped garlic, ginger and chilli paste
Add a little water to assist in blending to a smooth paste, keep aside
Remove lid from wok and stir silverbeet for 1-2 minutes
Strain silverbeet in a sieve reserving the cooking liquid and keep silverbeet aside
Add 1 tbsp of oil to the wok on medium heat
Stir fry diced onions until golden brown and softened
Add masala paste and fry for a further 3 minutes
Stir in salt to taste
Return strained silverbeet to the wok and stir well to coat with masala paste
Add prawns and stir through to coat well then remove from heat.
In a dry pan fry reserved prawn heads with a tsp of oil until they change colour to a deep red
Add reserved cooking liquid from the silverbeet
Increase heat and cook through stirring at all times until it reduces by about a third
Pass this liquid through a sieve into the wok with the prawn and silverbeet Fold through on low heat to create a thick gravy for the dish
Garnish with a splash of lime or lemon juice
Serve immediately on a bed of steamed rice or with some hot naans
The first Silverbeet seedling I planted in my vegie patch bathing in sunshine.

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