Nadan konju theeyal in a spicy, tangy and nutty curry with shrimp and pearl onion/ shallot. Roasted coconut & tamarind becomes the flavorful base. A finger licking delicious traditional Kerala style seafood preparation.
If you are someone who enjoys simple home cooked meal with complex flavors and precision cooking made with fresh ingredients you are in for a treat.
Shrimp is tricky to cook.Either you cook for 3 to 4 mts and it becomes soft or if you leave it unchecked it becomes hard then u need to cook for more than half hr to bring its softness back.
If you are a beginner, you can cook shrimp adding 1/4 cup water and microwave for 3 mts or cook separately in a small pan with half glass water.Keep an eye ok..don't answer any phone call till u r done.:)and add to the curry just before putting off the flame.
Let the Konju theeyal sit for sometime for the flavors to sink in. Tastes better the next day.
The coconut should get brown evenly for getting the exact flavor of traditional konju theeyal For which constant stirring without letting the coconut become burnt at the bottom of the pan. The whole curry's worth lies in how well u dry roast.
More precious memories :
--PICS FROM 2012 --
Ingredients list :
When fresh ingredients are used the flavor is quite different especially tiny fresh shelled deveined shrimp. As mentioned earlier I have used salad shrimp due to the unavailability of tiny konju here.
Saute the coconut without taking your hands off the stove for even browning. Add the spice powders towards the end to avoid burning and bitter after taste.
This is a very tart curry but use tamarind paste only as much as needed. Extract more from fresh tamarind by immersing the pulp in boiling hot water. Use the darkest tamarind available for the deepest brown color for curry.
Do not cook shrimp for long as it will toughen and become rubbery and loose all its flavor. Cook only for few minutes.
Nadan konju theeyal / Chemmeen theeyal / Shrimp in coconut tamarind sauce
- 25 pieces Shrimp
- 15 Pearl onion
- Tamarind (Valanpuli) -a small lime size piece soak it in 1/2 glass water. If using paste then-1 1/2 tsp
- 2 Green chili
To marinate the shrimp:
- 1 tsp Chili powder (can use kashmiri chili pd also)
- 1/3 tsp Turmeric powder
To dry roast:
- 1 cup Coconut grated
- 2 tsp Whole coriander seeds
- 2-3 Whole red chili
- 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
- 3 Pearl onion
- 2 tsp Coriander powder (Optional - Only if you want the curry really thick)
- 1 tsp Chili powder
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 5 Pearl onion
- 2 Whole red chilies
- 2 sprigs Curry leaves
- The shrimp should be cleaned(shell and vein removed, washed well) Apply chili powder , turmeric powder and salt and keep it aside to marinate till you do the dry roasting and grinding.
- Heat a wide heavy bottom pan on medium to low heat and put coconut grated whole coriander, whole red chilies, pearl onion sliced, fenugreek seeds and dry roast it.Constantly stirring without letting it become burnt at the bottom of the pan. The coconut should get brown evenly. The whole curry's worth lies in how well u dry roast. Towards the end add coriander powder (optional) and red chili powder, chili powder, turmeric powder and little salt. Keep stirring but switch off the heat. The residual heat on the stove is enough.
- Let the mix cool down .Then grind to paste adding tamarind water if using paste add it and some water too. Half of the roasted coconut masala to a coarse mixture and the remaining half to a smooth paste. (Check video for guidance)
- Now heat the earthenware or pan, pour coconut oil-2 tsp or more, put the pearl onions, green chili and saute till the onions become tender.Pour the ground mix along and let it simmer for 10 to 15 mts. Add enough water to make a thick curry Towards the end add shrimp .Make sure it cooks well. Remove from flame when the gravy becomes thick .
- Heat a smaller pan add coconut oil 2 tsp or more add some pearl onions sliced, whole red chili and curry leaves and a green chili slit for flavor when this browns well add a pinch of chili powder so it gets a deep brown color. Season this immediately on the curry. Cover and keep for atlas two hours so the flavors mingle. Then serve.
- Shrimp is tricky to cook. Either you cook for 3 to 4 mts and it becomes soft . If you leave it unchecked it becomes hard then u need to cook for more than half hr to soften it.
- If new to cooking shrimp then -you can cook shrimp separately with the marinade by adding 1/4 cup water and microwaving it for 3 mts or cook separately in a small pan with half glass water. Keep an eye and add it to the curry along with the liquid in it just before putting off the flame. Allow the curry to rest for few hours so the flavors mingle.
- If raw shrimp is used add 5-6 minutes before switching off heat. If cooked is used 2-3 minutes before so the powder marinade on the shrimp doesn't taste raw.
You may cut the shrimp into two, but Ammumma ( Granny) likes to cut it lengthwise I know.. I have never seen anyone do that. She often said the shrimp wouldn't curl up .
If you comment below on how much you can relate to this I will continue with more of her recipes.
Precious memories :
Now, this is our granny's favorite curry, Konju theeyal and this recipe is brought to you from her.
She cooks with super precision , believes that a dish should have the right smell, color and taste .Granny prefers using only whole spices and grinding on stone ,she takes around 7 to 8 whole red chilies for the right heat and color. Now that is too much for me also she uses only whole coriander -she just throws a small fist full into the pan to roast.To this day if Ammuma makes a curry it will definitely be the best.
At our place the fisher women bring fish door to door and sell that day's fresh catch.
From the moment the fisher woman calls out loud, "Konju venoo?"starts our day.She asks the most able bodied person standing anywhere there to help her place the big aluminium container full of fish on the ground from her head. She pulls out a wooden cutting board and lays a hand full or two of shrimp and starts off quoting a price and we, all women gather around her. Be it young ,old,kid or maid all are simply curious to see the rest of the fish.
More precious memories :
While granny and the lady have heated debate on the price we peek into the container to see what other fish she has,how many are alive and so on...
By then the bargaining is over Granny ensures the fish is bought in an earthen ware. Specially kept aside for cleaning and that it is half filled with water when the fish is put in it.
There on the dish is closely monitored by granny . Saying the fish has to be cleaned well, did you devein it properly. Is the coconut fried to the right brown color no more no less...so goes on the conversation.
Do you think any nadan food is worth eating without some rustic memories attached to it.
I don't have the luxury of having fresh catch of the day here,have to be happy with frozen one. How about you?
Update : Granny died a natural death at 105 years in 2021