Asha's India: Earth and Sea

28 April 2013 - 02:05 By Asha Maharaj

In the first of a new series covering the wide spectrum of Indian cuisine, Asha Maharaj makes an unusual curry combination

Delicacies made using fish and crustaceans have developed into a fine cuisine in the coastal states and along the rivers and lakes of India.

Large-scale organic farming of prawns is done on the inland waterways of Kerala for local consumption and export.

These traditional recipes have evolved around the world to suit local ingredients and flavours. This is a fairly mild-tasting curry of prawns and chickpeas, cooked with spices and coconut milk.



  • 30ml (2 tbsp) oil
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) butter
  • 5ml (1 tsp) cumin seeds
  • 2.5ml ( tsp) mustard seeds
  • 5ml (1 tsp) crushed garlic
  • 2.5ml ( tsp) ground turmeric
  • 3 fresh red chillies
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 x 400g cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 x 400g can coconut milk
  • 500g shelled prawns
  • 3 curry leaves
  • Handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt, to taste


Heat the oil and butter in a large pan. Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and garlic and fry for a few seconds.

Stir in turmeric, chillies, onion and chickpeas. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add the coconut milk. Cook over a medium heat until the milk has reduced and the sauce has thickened.

Add prawns, curry leaves, coriander and salt to taste.

Cook for a few minutes until prawns are opaque and curry thickened. Serve with buttered rolls or naan bread.

  • Asha Maharaj is a Durban chef who was the first to demonstrate Indian cooking on South African television, back in 1977. She has worked extensively in identifying and training aspirant chefs and in skills development, is a member of the SA Chefs Association as well as the International Gastronomic Society, and was a judge for the KwaZulu-Natal auditions of 'MasterChef SA'. She has published several cookbooks and writes regularly for the Sunday Times Extra edition.
  • Send queries to with ASHA as the subject.