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  • Writer's pictureJyothi Varne

Chemmeen Polichathu - Kerala Style Prawns

I've recently been trying out a lot of coastal food recipes and Kerala cuisine definitely tops my list. I thoroughly enjoy the burst of flavours that come through from a combination of simple whole spices and powders or the sweet mellow taste from coconut.

When I visited Kappa Chakka Kandhari in Bangalore, I was wowed by their Chemmeen aka Prawn polichathu that came in little parcels of banana leaves.

This recipe, however, is an adaptation from a website called Nas Recipe collection.

And considering the current lockdown situation, it was super difficult and impossible for me to get hold of Banana leaves to steam this dish, which is an authentic way of making it.

We always have a good amount of Maida stocked at home, because of all the impromptu baking that I keep doing. Since I did not have any banana leaves at hand, I recreated this dish into a mini taco that we could all enjoy as yummy finger food for lunch with some drinks.

The dry coconut mix is the hero of this dish which marries our sweet prawn like a match made in heaven. I would suggest, though that you use medium or small size prawns to make this dish. Also marinating them for a good one hour in spice powders recommended below totally makes a huge difference as well.

Here's what you need :


For marination :

500g - Prawns, de-veined & cleaned

1 tsp - Chilli powder

1/2 tsp - Turmeric powder

1/2 tsp - Fennel/Saunf powder

1/2 tsp - Pepper powder

1/2 tsp - Garlic paste

A pinch of salt

For the masala/gravy base :

2 Sprigs - Curry leaves

2 cups - Shallots, sliced

2 small tomatoes, sliced

2 - Green chillies

2 inch - Ginger

12 cloves of Garlic

1/2 tsp - Turmeric powder

1/4 tsp - Fennel/Saunf powder

1/4 tsp - Pepper powder

1 tsp - Vinegar

5 tbsp - Coconut milk

1/2 cup - Grated coconut

Salt to taste

4 tbsp - Oil for cooking


  1. In a vessel, mix all ingredients listed under marinade and let this rest for 1 hour.

  2. Heat oil in a pan and fry curry leaves and the chopped shallots until golden brown.

  3. Coarsely grind together: Ginger, Garlic and Green chillies with little water. Add this paste to the above mixture and cook until the raw smell disappears.

  4. Next add the dry spice powders: Chilli, pepper, saunf, along with vinegar, salt to taste and fry for a minute.

  5. Marinated prawns go in next, cook them for 7 minutes on a low flame until the prawns let out their juices. Check for salt/spice levels and adjust basis preference.

  6. Add in grated coconut and coconut milk and continue to cook on a low flame until the coconut becomes dry and fragrant.

  7. Dish out hot and serve as a starter or with steamed rice and your favourite curry.

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