Tawa Cooking – Jhinga Tawa Masala (Spicy Prawns)

The tawa or tavah is a flat or slightly concave disk shape griddle mostly made of cast iron and is an essential cooking utensil in all regions of India. The household tawa found in Indian homes is smaller and mostly used to cook flat breads like roti and paratha. In southern India its is used to make delicacies like Dosa etc.    

Traditional Household Tawa

The delicacies that we are planning to cook and post in Tawa Series are traditionally not meant to be cooked in the conventional household griddle. The recommended tawa for all these delicacies is much thicker and larger (at least 24 inch diameter). The thickness prevents sticking to a larger extent. The larger surface allows to food to be moved to periphery – away from the heat of the flame.    

The Real Tawa used in eateries

We are no professional cooks with big kitchen where we can cook on such a big tawa, so we are going to try all the tawa recipes on our small 12 inch non-stick tawa. One great advantage of tawa cooking over other utensils: the cooking process is very quick and takes the least time. However, during the short time it demands constant attention of stirring to avoid the risk of burning. 

Our Tawa

What is the difference between Shrimp and Prawns? Whatever be the difference, we call both of them Jhinga in hindi and it really doesn’t matter which one you use because both of them taste the same. Just try to get the biggest size available in the market. This prawn recipe uses Ajwain, the flavor of which elevates the taste of this delicacy from ordinary curry to a gourmet’s delight. The prawns napped in Makhani gravy and the ease of preparation makes this delicacy all the more attractive.    

Jhinga Tawa Masala served with Steaming White Rice

Watch our video for the recipe of this easy prawn delicacy and please leave us your feedback/comments.    

Ingredients Summary    

Serves: 4; Total Time: 1 hour    

For the gravy:    

Tomato (chopped) – 450 gm or 1 lb; Ginger paste – 1 tsp; Garlic paste – 1 tsp; Green Chili – 3; Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp; Cloves – 5; Cardamom – 4; Salt – to taste; Butter – 80 gm or 3 oz; Cream – 1/3 cup; Kasoori Methi (Fenugreek) – 1 1/2 tsp; Ginger – 10 gm or 1/2 oz;    

For the prawns:    

Prawns – 1 Kg or 2 1/4 lb;  Ghee – 6 Tbs; Ajwain – 2 tsp; Onions – 200 gm or 7 oz; Green Chili – 3; Ginger – 10 gm or 1/2 oz; Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp; Fresh Coriander – 1/2 cup; Lemon juice – 2 Tbs; Garam Masala – 1 tsp; Salt – to taste;

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Cooking Fish in Banana Leaf

Reading a food blog from a “Bong” without fish recipes is like drinking decaffeinated coffee. Till now our only fish recipe was “Salmon in Mustard Sauce”. Here is another classic style of cooking fish the Bengali way (marinated in spices and mustard oil) in steam by wrapping in banana leaf. Cooking in banana leaf leaves a faint musky, smoky and pungent aroma in the fish. Luckily for us, we found frozen banana leaves in an Asian grocery store near our home. Mostly fresh water fish found in river and lakes that are flaky in nature tastes best in this style of cooking. Our choice of fish was Boal Fish (Wallago attu). In the US, an easy alternative choice could be catfish as well.

The marination for this recipe can vary greatly. We kept it really simple with just a few ingredients in the marination that was made with onion, garlic, turmeric, chili powder and mustard oil. Some people like to use mustard paste, poppy seed paste etc as well.

The only difficult part of this preparation was wrapping the fish in banana leaf. You can see in the video that we were really struggling to wrap the fish in banana leaf without letting the marination squeeze out of the bundle. Once the fish is all bundled up in the banana leaf then there’s not too much left to do. Just cook it in a pan or grill for an hour or so with occasional turning. And in case you can’t get a banana leaf, just wrap the whole thing in aluminium foil and grill it  for 30 minutes.

We received a few encouraging feedback on our posts. Many thanks to our friends for giving us valuable suggestions to improve. It looks like there are people out there who really want to try out the recipes by watching our videos but it’s a pain to go back and forth in the video to note down the ingredients. So from this post onwards we are going to summarize the ingredients in the post as well.

Ingredients Summary

Boal Fish – 1 lb (500 gms); Onion (red) – 2 (thinly sliced); Garlic – 6 cloves (grated); Whole Green Chili – 3; Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp; Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp; Salt – 1 tsp; Mustard Oil – 2 tbsp; Banana Leaf

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Monday night dinner – Salmon goes desi

It was a great Monday. I was able to leave work precisely at 6.00 PM. Hope the luck continues for rest of the week. As I stepped in the elevator, called my wife to discuss the dinner. By the time the elevator completed its downward journey of twenty-nine floors, the entire plan was ready. We are going to cook “Salmon” in a very authentic mustard and poppy gravy popular in the state of West Bengal and the neighbouring country of Bangladesh. It was decided that I will buy the salmon on my way home from the neighbourhood grocery store. While buying the fish, I took the opportunity to take a picture of the fish galore in front of me.
Salmon is mostly found in pacific ocean, atlantic ocean and the great lakes of America and Canada. So this is kind of fusion recipe of cooking American fish with Indian spices and sauces. Originally, this delicacy is made with HILSA fish found in eastern region of India and Bangladesh. HILSA has a distinct flavor and aroma just like Salmon and is also popular as “King of fishes” in the region. 

 Due to use of both mustard seeds and mustard oil, this delicacy has a distinctive pungency in taste similar to that of wasabi. 

And finally, I am posting this after having dinner. Had dinner while the video was uploading on YouTube. Missed friends and family while eating this delightful delicacy. 


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Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 2:50 am  Comments (3)  
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