Pondicherry Prawns with zuchinni, preserved lemon and herbs

This is an unusual recipe hailing from Pondicherry, originally a French colony in Tamil Nadu, India. Pondicherry is truly unique with French style street signs, French colonial architecture and police that wear French style Kepis. We loved our visit to this special part of India, staying at the UNESCO world heritage ward winning Hotel De L’Orient.

The restaurant at the hotel, Carte Blanch, is atmospherically set in the open air atrium of the hotel and features a special menu of creole cooking combining Tamil spices with French flavours. Recently flicking through Rick Stein’s India recipe book I found this recipe inspired by a meal he had at the hotel.

I’ve adapted it using fresh green Australian king prawns and a slightly different mix of spices, spring onions and some green chilli. The use of preserved lemon gives the dish a fresh tangy flavour and the mixture of thyme, rosemary, basil and coriander is delicious.

An excellent dish for entertaining as you can prepare all the ingredients and stir fry it just before you serve.

Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

12 large green(uncooked) king prawns peeled, deveined, tails intact
1 zuchinni, finely sliced into rounds
Half a bunch of spring onions, tops removed and sliced on the angle
2 teaspoons ginger and garlic paste
50g preserved lemon with pulp removed and cut into fine strips
1 tsp thyme leaves finely chopped
1 tsp rosemary leaves finely chopped
1 large green chilli deseeded and cut into fine strips
1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1 teaspoon black pepper crushed
Handful basil leaves torn
Handful of coriander leaves chopped roughly
1 tablespoon of ghee, 1 tablespoon olive oil

Prawns peeled, deveined with tails intact
Prawns peeled, deveined with tails intact
Ingredients prepared for stir frying
Ingredients prepared for stir frying

Method

Heat ghee and olive oil in large frying pan or wok over medium heat
Add spring onions, ginger and garlic and stir fry for 1-2 minutes
Add zuchinni, prawns, preserved lemon, green chilli, rosemary and thyme and sauté for 3 minutes
Add chilli powder, cummin powder and black pepper and cook until prawns turn pink for about 5 minutes
Stir through basil and coriander and serve with basmati rice or roti

Baked cauliflower with garlic, chilli, coriander and lemon

There’s something very rustic and comforting about baking a whole cauliflower. This version with chilli, coriander, garlic and lemon is delicious as a side for an Indian feast or seved simply with grilled fish or meats and a green salad.

Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients
1 whole medium size cauliflower with outer leaves removed
3 small red chillies
4 cloves garlic
Zest and juice of one lemon
Handful of coriander leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt

Method
Heat oven to 200 degrees celcius
Cut away base of the cauliflower so it will sit flat
Cut a cross in the base
Crush garlic, coriander, salt and chilli into a paste using mortar and pestle
Add lemon zest and lemon juice and then muddle with olive oil
Rub paste well all over the cauliflower using plastic gloves
Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper
Place on middle rack of oven for about an hour or until cauliflower is tender
Serve as a delicious accompaniment to meat and fish dishes
Seves 4-6