What’s In A Name

Country of OriginIndia

For a state surrounded by large natural water bodies, Kerala’s culinary strengths lie in the creatures that inhabit these waters. And where there is saltwater, there are prawns (or shrimps)!

One such dish that makes good use of this rich abundance in marine life and that has eventually found its way into many a household, including mine, has been the Chemmeen Ularthiyathu (Prawn Roast).

Our Connection

എവിടെ (Where)Tamarind Terrace, Dubai, UAE
എപ്പോൾ (When)
September, 2018

Nothing like wasting two hours of your life watching a mediocre film on an enormous screen to really get your appetite flowing, am I right?

As we exited the theatre and made our way towards the car park, we began contemplating our options for a late afternoon lunch. It wasn’t until we approached the exit of the mall that we all came to an agreement that we were in the mood for something coastal and close to home.

Half an hour later, we arrived at the unmistakable entrance of the Tamarind Terrace. For a late weekend afternoon, the restaurant was appropriately crowded, although we were fortunate enough to find an empty booth immediately.

We didn’t waste any time placing our order. If memory serves me well, we ordered three curries – a poultry, a meat, and a seafood. No second guesses as to what the latter (seafood) was.

When the prawns arrived at our table, it was the colour that popped out at me first. The vibrant red – most likely the result of tomatoes and chillies – screamed ‘spicy’! Believe me when I say that I didn’t hesitate for a second before going in for seconds. It was a good thing too that only 67% of us on the table actually liked seafood, so there was plenty for me to feast on.

It’s a shame that the restaurant is no longer operational. I so would have loved to go back there one more time. Even if it were only for that very special Chemmeen Roast!


Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 20 mins Total Time 30 mins
Servings: 3
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


"You know how Comedy Roasts are usually quite mean? Well, they pale in comparison to Prawn Roasts which are inherently very....wait for it....Chemmeen! Ok, I'll see myself out!"



  1. Peel and de-vein1 the prawns2 if they are not already done so

  2. Place the prawns in a bowl. Marinate the prawns with a pinch of salt and black pepper powder, and half of the prescribed ginger-garlic paste3, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder

  3. Give the prawns a good massage so as to ensure that all of the pieces are well coated in the marination. Leave it to rest while you prepare the rest of the ingredients

  4. It's time to turn our attention to making the curry paste. Roughly chop the shallots, tomato, green chillies, and half of the prescribed curry leaves

  5. Submerge and soak the dried Kashmiri red chillies in hot water for 5 minutes to rehydrate them

  6. Add a heaped tablespoon of coconut oil into a large sauté pan, and bring it over a medium-high heat 

  7. Once the oil is hot, add the curry leaves to the pan and let them sizzle for a few seconds 

  8. Add the ginger-garlic paste and green chillies. Sauté until the raw smell dissipates 

  9. Add the chopped shallots. Continue to sauté until they turn translucent 

  10. Season the shallots with coriander powder, cumin powder, the rest of the red chilli powder and turmeric powder, and a generous pinch of salt. Sauté until the spices coat the mixture 

  11. Add the chopped tomato to the pan. Sauté until they start to turn mushy. Once the mixture is ready, take it off the heat, and keep it aside to cool 

  12. Once the mixture has cooled down, pour it into a blender. Add the rehydrated red chillies and a few tablespoons of its water. Blitz/Pulse4 until you get a smooth red curry paste

  13. In the same sauté pan, add another heaped tablespoon of coconut oil and bring it over a medium-high heat

  14. Once the oil is warm, sprinkle the black mustard into the pan and wait for them to pop. Add the rest of the curry leaves and let them sizzle along with the mustard seeds

  15. Scoop out all of the curry paste from the blender and add it into the pan. Stir until the mustard seeds and curry leaves mix in with the paste

  16. Drain any excess water from the bowl and then add the marinated prawns into the pan. Sauté on medium-high heat until the prawns start to turn pink and curl

  17. Pour 90 ml of water into the pan. Stir until the curry paste starts to become slightly loose and liquid5

  18. Sprinkle the garam masala, and pour the tamarind paste6 into the curry. Stir until the spices dissolve in the curry  

  19. Continue boiling the prawns in the curry for another 2 minutes on medium-high heat or until the paste/gravy reaches the desired consistency. Once ready, take the pan off the heat 

  20. To Serve (per serving): The Chemmeen Roast is best served with Kerala Malabar Parottas. Pour a spoonful of the Chemmeen Roast in a small serving bowl. Serve the Malabar Parottas on the side


1. De-veining prawns involves removing the shit sacks from the prawns. To de-vein prawns, use a small pairing knife and run it down the spine of the prawn, where the vein and shit sack runs. Dip them in water to easily remove the sack from the prawn. While eating un-deveined prawns is not dangerous, it can be very gritty and unpleasant to eat.

2. When purchasing fresh prawns, ask the seller to peel and de-vein the prawns. This would save a lot of time while cooking. If you can't find fresh prawns, you can substitute it with either frozen or pre-cooked prawns that are already peeled and de-veined.

3. Substitute ginger-garlic paste for finely grated fresh ginger and garlic

4. It is ideal if your blender has a Pulse option as this would result in a smoother paste than if you use the general grind/blend option. If you do not have the Pulse option, don't worry, you can use the general setting, although you may have to increase the quantity of water to get a smoother paste.

5. You can adjust the quantity of water based on how dry or gravy-like you want the Chemmeen Roast to be. Add only a couple of tablespoons of water if you want the dish to be dry or add more than the prescribed amount if you want it to be more gravy-like.

6. Add two tablespoons of water for every tablespoon of tamarind paste to loosen the texture and reduce the intensity of the tamarind's inherent tanginess.

7. The prices of the ingredients (table below) are only rough estimates and are subject to change!

8. As certain ingredients are common household items - salt, pepper, oil - you may not be required to purchase them, and so the cost of preparing this dish is lower.

Keywords: Lunch & Dinner, Main Course, Non-Vegetarian, Prawns, Seafood

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