Within India it is far more common to see curries made with seafood that elsewhere in the world, as it is widely available and easily sourced from the thousands of miles of coastline indigenous to the countries boundaries. The seas of south and east asia provide a fantastic array of seafood, and prawns are especially sought after for use in a wide range of dishes, primarily because while being so full of flavor they do not over-dominate the complexity and taste of the sauce and it’s composite ingredients.
All good Indian restaurants will offer a variety of options to provide the body of each curry, be it meat, vegetable or chicken. However unlike meats, prawns simply work with all of the different styles and temperatures of curry thanks to the natural subtlety of their flavor, and thanks to this they are a sound choice when looking to try an unfamiliar dish.
Indian vindaloo dishes are perhaps the most famous of all curries, offering an unashamedly intense experience that is full of heat thanks to plenty of chillies and Garam Masala infused into a tomato based sauce. A truly great vindaloo will make the sauce the star of the show, and rather than chunks of meat or vegetable, prawns serve this option superbly as they are slight enough to become a feature of the meal rather than the focus. Other curries such as Madras and Baltis are there for those looking to enjoy hunkier meals, soaked up with plenty of naan and rice. Vindaloo is simply best enjoyed with prawns, as maybe a roti or two to scoop up the sauce.
At the other end of the spectrum prawns also work great with more easier going dishes, such as Korma, Dopiaza or Tikka Massala, where as a substitute for meat they can really help to unlock the deeper flavors in the sauce.
An excellent way to enjoy prawns as part of a meal, especially for the uninitiated or more conservative diner, would be to try them as a part of a starter. King Tandoori prawns are a classic appetizer, and great for waking up the senses to the spicy delights that will follow in the main course. Other good options include Karwari prawns, that are infused with light spices and coconut, and also simple skewered prawns with plenty of garlic and coriander to get the taste buds really racing.
It’s no surprise that many top Indian chefs focus so heavily upon seafood within their menus, and opting for prawns can serve to genuinely enlighten as to how certain spices and textures complement each other. With such a great versatility, it’s also worth mentioning that prawns are nutritionally a sound option being low in calories and fat and packed with plenty of essential vitamins.