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ceylon tea prawns

Ceylon Tea Prawns with Mulligatawny Soup

I came up with this dish while I was filming My Sri Lanka in Nuwara Eliya, inspired by the surrounding Ceylon tea plantations. Great served as a starter, or as party canapés.



12 16/20 prawns with the shell on reserve the shells and meat.
1 sprig curry leaves
1 clove garlic
1 green chilli
1 hot red chilli
1x 2cm piece ginger, roughly chopped
Onions, roughly chopped

Mulligatawny soup
2 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic
1 x onion, finely diced
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds, roasted
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp black peppercorns, ground
½ tsp roasted cumin powder
½ tsp roasted fennel seeds, ground
1 whole red chilli
Pinch of saffron
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
2 medium carrot, finely diced
1 medium eggplant, finely diced
Tomato, finely chopped
1 sprig curry leaves, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 x lime juice

Dipping sauce
12 skewers
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 dry red chilli
¼ cup parsley
1 tsp loose-leaf tea


Shell, devein and wash the prawns and keep the prawn flesh to one side.

In a large pot of water, approximately 2 litres place the prawn shells, curry leaves, garlic, chillies, ginger and onions. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a separate pot and add the curry leaves, garlic, onion and spices.

Fry until fragrant, being careful not to burn, and then add to the prawn stock. Increase the heat, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for a maximum of 20 minutes.

In the pot used to fry the spices, heat some more oil. Don’t wash the pot out.

Add the carrot, eggplant, tomato and onion and gently fry for 4-5 minutes. Add the curry leaves and stir to combine.

Meanwhile, prepare the prawns. Put each prawn on its back and lightly score its belly two or three times so that it can lie out flat. Place a skewer through each prawn, starting at the head and coming out at the tail. Remove the small spike between the two tail fins. Repeat with remaining prawns and leave to one side.

Remove the stock from the heat and strain into the vegetable mixture. Bring to the boil and season to taste. Then add the lime juice.

In a separate bowl, place the mayonnaise, garlic, red chilli and parsley and stir to combine. Leave to one side.

Place the tea in a small pan over high heat and lightly roast, being careful not to burn it. Remove from heat and add a small amount to the mayonnaise mixture. Reserve the rest for garnishing.

Heat some oil on a hotplate over high heat. Place the prawns on the hotplate and cook until just translucent.

Remove each prawn from the heat and coat in the mayonnaise mixture. Sprinkle each prawn with a pinch of the leftover tea and serve with a small bowl of the prawn soup.