Chemmeen or Prawn Theeyal: Every shellfish enthusiast's go-to Kerala curry dish

Chemmeen or Prawn Theeyal: Every shellfish enthusiast's go-to Kerala curry dish

One of Kerala's finest, this dish takes only 35 minutes to make and serves eight

Prawns Theeyal or Chemmeen Theeyal is a staple dish popular in the coastal regions of Kerala. The delicious, fragrant and aromatic gravy will set your cravings on a high when you step in to devour it Image Credit: Sobha Varghese/Supplied

If you're in to try out something exclusive to Kerala cuisine's seafood dishes, the Chemmeen or Prawn Theeyal is for you. A traditional curry made of roasted coconut and a variety of vegetables (as per your choice), this flavoursome dish is known for its rich mahagony tones and flavour. The slightly thick gravy, pearl onions (or shallots) complements the dish. Although the preparation is bit elaborate, it is worth the effort.

Chemeen Theeyal (Prawn Theeyal) is every seafood lovers' delight and best accompanied with either boiled red rice, appam, puttu, roti and even the Malabar paratha or 'porotta' (flatbread).

Ingredients :

These are the ingredients you will need... Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

500gm prawns (deveined and cleaned)

150gm grated coconut

200gm shallots (sliced into two pieces)

50gm shallots (finely chopped)

40gm coconut (chopped into small pieces)

2tsp red Chilli Powder

2tsp coriander powder

1tsp mustard seeds

1/2tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste

1/2tsp fenugreek powder (Dry roasted)

3 green chillies

2 red chillies (dried)

2 pieces of pot tamarind or Kudampuli

3 sprigs curry leaves

3 tbsp coconut oil

400ml water


It's time to start roasting Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

Step 1: Take a heavy bottom Kadai or pan and heat it on a low flame. Add grated coconut, chopped shallots, and one sprig of curry leaves. Continue to roast it over a low flame till the coconut turns dark brown. Make sure you do not overburn the coconut, or else the gravy will result in a bitter taste.

Add in your spices... Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

Step 2: Add 2 teaspoon of red chilli powder and 2 teaspoons of coriander powder and mix it altogether for 30 seconds. Turn the flame off and keep it aside for cooling.

Time to grind it into a paste Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

Step 3: After the roasted mix cools down, grind this into a fine paste using a mixer grinder.

Note: Do not add water while you grind the mix into a paste.

Add in the finely chopped coconut pieces Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

Step 4: Using the same Kadai, add 2 tbsp of coconut oil. Once heated, add the chopped coconut pieces and fry it till it becomes light golden brown colour. Add a pinch of salt to accelerate the frying process.

Add shallots, green chilli and curry leaves... Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

Step 5: Add the sliced shallots and sauté it till it turns a light brown shade. Add green chillies and one sprig of curry leaves and stir for another minute.

Time to add in the prawns or chemmeen Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

Step 6: Add the tcleaned prawns and sauté it further for 2 to 3 minutes.

Take a clay pot to combine all these ingredients... Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

Step 7: Take a clay pot (mannchatti) or a heavy bottom skillet, and pour the roasted coconut paste into it. Mix it in 400 ml of water and add turmeric powder. Mix well and allow it to boil.

Add the rest of the ingredients Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

Step 8: Transfer the half cooked prawns into the clay pot, then add Fenugreek powder and the nicely washed and soaked pot tamarind (kudampuli). Cook it for about 12 to 15 minutes with a closed lid. Stir occasionally and you will notice that the oil starts to float on the top.

Note: Before you start cooking the Theeyal, soak the pot tamarind for 15 minutes in hot water. Do not throw the water, add it to the gravy instead.

Keep the dish aside after taking it off the burner Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

Step 9: Take the pan off the flame.

A few final ingredients... Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

Step 10: Finally, heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a small frying pan, add one nicely chopped shallot, one sprig of curry leaves and two dry red chillies. Temper this for few seconds and then pour this spice-infused oil over the curry.

Delicious Chemeen Theeyal is now ready... Image Credit: Supplied/Sobha Varghese

Allow the Theeyal to rest for 15-30 minutes before serving (this will help in flavours of curry leaves, coconut oil and pot tamarind to release its essences). Accompany this dish with roti or rice.

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