Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Why This Koliwada Prawns Day--Koliwada Shrimp

At the end of the day we park ourselves at the table. We spend all day arranging and rearranging possessions. I know we all deserve a large glass of adult grape juice. Glenn uncorks a TicToc, a shiraz with fruity undertones. He gives us a generous pour and asks us about our day. While we regale him with the foibles of the day, I fry some shrimp. A squeeze of lime and we are gobbling them up. The spicy shrimp pair well with the shiraz.

I  love shrimp but don't cook them often as my kids are allergic to them. My husband, being the non-conformist Goan, is indifferent to shrimp. So when guests arrive I am thrilled to indulge their palate as well as mine. Early in the morning I lie in bed, my mind wanders the culinary realm. I plan breakfast, lunch and dinner. Shrimp is high on my inspiration list. I flirt with the idea of a curry, but fried shrimp and fish sound better and better as recipes swirl in my mind. I peel and marinate. Koliwada shrimp and fish fry are well known Bombay street food favorites. Kolis are the indigenous tribe who trawl the bays for seafood. Koliwada is the designated name for the areas they live in.  After sunset, in the small lanes of Koliwada, numerous small open air stalls serve these fried foods. The evenings unfold with an aroma of smoke accompanied by an audible sizzle of bubbling oil.  A portion of shrimp comes nestled in newspaper, a perfect foil soaking up grease. Icy bottles of pilsner sit on the tables to offset the spicy shrimp. Some vinegary onions and wedges of lime complete the ensemble. Fingers are the best way to enjoy the flavor. Satisfied laughter rises from tablesides

Koliwada Shrimp
Serves 3 to 4 

1 pound Shrimp
1 teaspoon Chile powder
1/8 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Garam masala
1 teaspoon Tandoori masala
1 teaspoon Garlic paste
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons Cilantro, finely chopped
4 tablespoons Rice flour
2 tablespoons Canola oil
Lime wedges

Peel, devein and wash the shrimp.

In a bowl add chile powder, turmeric,garam masala, tandoori masala, garlic, salt and cilantro. Mix well.

Add in the shrimp, stir well to coat shrimp with spices.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Heat oil in a shallow saucepan.

Lightly coat shrimp with rice flour.

Add shrimp to pan, cook for 2 minutes and turn over and fry for another minute to brown the other side.

Squirt with some lime juice and serve hot.  


I make fish fillets the same way, as you can see in one of the pictures.

Shrimp - prawns, call it what you may, makes a delicious appetizer, a fiery prelude to dinner. We eat with our hands, licking the spice off our fingers. Unlike the Kolaveri song, no one is in a murderous rage. Though my kids wait impatiently as I fry fish for them. No pictures though, I am hungry and tired!


  1. This brought back such fond memories of my Mom - she loved Koliwada fish. Glad to see that you were able to save the fish platter I got for you in Mexico. The shrimp look & taste wonderful.

  2. Yummm! I was already wishing I was there with you guys- and now I'm even more jealous! MIss you all! :)

  3. I tried the prawns fry. Ken was licking his fingers. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. Great recipe - thanks for sharing. I fried a pound of Koliwada prawns for lunch yesterday and they were a hit with the family. I served them with dhal and rice, and followed the meal with an afternoon nap. The perfect way to spend a day off from work!

    Today's lunch featured Koliwada Bombay ducks and I have to say the recipe works well with Bombay ducks too.

    1. Thanks Jen..I have to get these Bombay ducks and experiment... Hope the newspaper trick worked .