PRAWN FRITTERS WITH CHUTNEY AND KACHUMBER FROM THE ALLEN KITCHEN, KOLKATA
I couldn’t work out why these prawn cutlets were so delicious; there seemed to be nothing to them, just a simple batter, a bit of lemon, some onion rings and a bottle
of mustard sauce. But the very enthusiastic blogger from Calcutta called Kaniska
was keen to point out that this tiny little hole in the wall was one of the most popular
foodie spots in the city. They may have put a secret ingredient in the batter, but I expect the success lies in using chickpea flour and frying the battered prawns in pure ghee. I consumed a few plates of them while having a thoroughly enjoyable conversation about the almost infinite possibilities of street food in that city. Later I woke up in the middle of the night in my hotel with my head spinning, thinking the pace of life was so frenetic that I was surely locked into a madhouse, albeit with some of the tastiest food I’ve ever found. This makes a quite soft batter, not a thick, crisp batter like you’d get with fish and chips.
© 2019 Rick Stein / Ebury Press · Reproduced with permission. · Rick Stein’s India published by BBC Books, £25.
To prepare the prawns, pull off the head and peel away the shell, leaving the tail intact. Use a small, sharp knife to run down the back of the prawns and pull out the black intestinal tracts, if visible. Then use the knife to cut almost all the way through the prawns and butterfly them open. Flatten them out a little with the palm of your hand. Pat dry with kitchen towel.
For the batter, mix the flours and salt together, whisk in the egg and enough of the water to give a smooth batter the consistency of single cream. Heat the ghee in a heavy-based saucepan or karahi over a medium heat. Once hot, dip 2 or 3 prawns in the batter and carefully lower into the ghee. Fry for 2–3 minutes, turning once, until crisp and golden and cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining prawns. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over and chutney and kachumber salad on the side.