Pondicherry Prawns

Chilli Prawns

When it comes to seafood street dishes, I don’t think I’ve tasted any better than this prawn recipe, which I picked up from friends in Pondicherry on India’s east coast. Typically these prawns, which carry a gentle heat and a healthy addiction are served rough and ready in newspaper cones or waxed paper. However for this version we’ve pimped it and served it with a smooth coconut dressed red onion salad.

This chilli prawn recipe is a great snack, super quick and it articulates Southern India, hot, sharp and cool all at the same time. Genius!

Serves 2 as a snack

Spice Jacket

  • Juice of ¼ of a lime
  • ½ tsp ginger and garlic paste
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2tsp rice flour
  • 1tsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp water
  • 150g raw king prawns
  • 3 tbs frying oil


  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ginger garlic paste
  • Juice of ¼ of a lime
  • Handful of curry leaves
  • Salt to season
Pondicherry chilli prawns

How To Make Chilli Prawns

To make the tarka, use a small pan and heat the oil over medium temperature and tip in the mustard seeds and wait until they pop. Now slide in the shallot and cook for 2-3 minutes until it’s browned and then add the rest of the ingredients and turn the heat to low and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the tarka has dried a little and yields a feisty aroma.

For the spice jacket, simply mix the ingredients into a paste and toss the prawns through it. Using a frying pan, heat the oil over a medium temperature and fry the prawns for 3-4 minutes until lightly crispy. Add the prawns into the tarka pan and run through for a minute or two until the spices are clinging to the prawns and they’re looking jammy and irresistible.

Sprinkle with lightly fried curry leaves and serve with coconut onion salad.

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