Vivek Singh’s King Prawns With Saffron Korma Sauce

This recipe from the courts of the Nawabs of Lucknow is a fine example of sophisticated Muslim cooking. Rich and regal, it is a true celebration dish.

It may well have been the original korma that has been severely travestied many times over to end up in the ubiquitous British high-street curry house

For the curry:
• 1kg king prawns, peeled and de-veined, reserving 200 g shells for the stock
• 6 green cardamom pods
• 3 blades mace
• 60g blanched almonds
• 60g unsalted cashew nuts
• 3 tablespoons ghee
• 2 large onions, finely chopped
• 4 green chillies, finely chopped
• 5 cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
• A pinch saffron strands, infused in 3 tablespoons warm milk
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 100ml single cream
• 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped

For the stock:
• 500ml water
• 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 2 green cardamom pods
• 2 blades mace
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/2 carrot, thickly sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 2 black peppercorns

1 First make the stock. Wash the 200 g reserved prawn shells in cold water and place them in a large pan with all the remaining stock ingredients.
2 Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and set aside.
3 Grind 3 of the cardamom pods and 1 blade of mace in a mortar and pestle, then set aside.
4 Add the almonds and cashew nuts to a pan of boiling water and simmer for 30–40 minutes, until softened.
5 Drain well, reserving the liquid. Place the nuts in a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste, adding some of the reserved cooking liquid if required.
6 Heat the ghee in a wide, shallow pan over a medium heat. Add the remaining cardamom pods and mace blades and stir for 30 seconds. Now add the onions and sauté until golden.
7 Add the chillies and ginger and sauté for 1 minute, then mix in the nut paste. Stir over a low to medium heat for 6–8 minutes, until the ghee separates out and the paste starts to leave the side of the pan.
8 Add the prawns and 4 tablespoons of the stock. Keep stirring, adding a further 2–4 tablespoons of stock 2 or 3 times, until the prawns begin to turn pink and the sauce is a coating consistency.
9 Mix in the saffron milk and salt and simmer for a minute longer, until the prawns are cooked. Add the cream, heat through and transfer to a serving dish.
10 Sprinkle with the ground mace and cardamom and the fresh coriander. Serve with steamed basmati rice or layered parathas.

Recipe courtesy of Vivek Singh extracted from Curry


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