When I used to work and live in North Bengal our project manager invited me on his son’s naming ceremony. We headed off to their home which was in a interior part of North Bengal. It is one of the most beautiful parts of India at the foot hills of Himalaya. I vividly remember the spectacular beauty of Gorumara National Park and the thousands of streams and rivers flowing through it. After we reached the village we sat down for one of the best meals of my life. All made from the local farms and the plentiful fish and shrimps from the local rivers. One of the food I had stuck with me. I have made it on and off over the years. It’s an interesting combo of shrimp and raw jackfruit (kanthal).
The other day when my husband had some friends over I decided to make this, especially because our guests were also Bong which is a rarity for us. They loved it and wanted the recipe, so here it goes.
- 1 can raw jackfruit drained and soaked overnight in water
- 2 medium sized potatoes cut into quarters
- 1lb. large tiger prawns deveined and cleaned ( Reserve the shells for prawn stock )
- 1 medium tomato coarsely chopped
- 1 small onion minced
- 1tbsp. ginger paste
- 1tsp. garlic paste
- 1+1 tbsp. turmeric powder
- 1tsp. chili powder
- 1tsp. coriander powder
- 1/2tsp. cumin powder
- 1/2tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
- 1tsp. sugar
- Mustard oil
- For Tempering
- 2,3 Bay leaves
- Whole garam masala ( 2 green cardamom, 2 cloves, 1” cinnamon stick )
- 1tsp. whole cumin seeds
Start with making the prawn stock. In a saucepan take the shells of the prawns and cover them with enough water. Allow them to simmer on low heat till you need them for your gravy. This way you can extract the flavors of prawns to their maximum. Strain the stock before you add to your curry.
In a pressure cooker take jackfruit pieces and add a cup of water to it. Add a pinch of salt and cook it on high heat till the first whistle. Let the steam settle down on its own before you open the cooker. Drain the water and reserve the jackfruit pieces.
Now we get to the main part of our cooking. Rub the prawns with 1tsp. turmeric powder and salt. Heat enough mustard oil in a pan and fry the prawns till they change their color to a vibrant orange. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
In the same oil shallow fry the jackfruit pieces and potatoes till their edges turn brown. Remove and keep aside.
If needed add more oil to your pan and temper it with bay leaves, whole garam masala and cumin seed. Sauté on medium heat for a minute. If you want to get a vibrant red color to your gravy add little sugar to this oil and wait for it to caramelize. Add minced onion to it and patiently fry them on low heat till they turn light brown.
Now add all your wet spices to the oil and cook them on low heat for a while. Throw the coarsely chopped tomatoes in, followed by the dry spice powder. Cook till the tomato is mushy and the spices take a darker hue.
Add fried vegetables to it and fry them along with the spices. Soon you will see a fine line of oil oozing out of the spices. This is the time when you add the strained prawn stock to it. Add salt and sugar to season and stir the gravy well with the spices. Cook them covered for about 10 minutes on medium heat. You can add water if the stock is not enough.
When the vegetables are 3/4th done add fried prawns to it and cook everything together for another 2-3 minutes.
Garnish with a pinch of garam masala and ghee.