|SRI LANKAN PRAWN VARAI|
I got this recipe from Mr S. Siluvairasu, the proprietor of the Yarl Beach Inn in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, when I stayed there in August 2003. I haven't cooked it much, which is a shame since it isn't difficult to do at all and is really delicious.
Actually what Mr Silu cooked when I was there (on a press assignment) was shark varai (pronounced vah-ray) – flaked shark meat cooked with grated coconut and spices. Prawns are an alternative, and the dish can be eaten with rice, thosai or stringhoppers.
One of Mr Silu's other specialities that I enjoyed was baked crabs, also a well-known dish in Jaffna and another recipe that he gave me. That one takes a bit more preparation but it's also a really wonderful dish.
Mr Silu’s Prawn Varai
500g prawns, shelled and cleaned
150g grated coconut
2 tsp chilli powder
Pinch of turmeric powder
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cumin powder
Salt to taste
3 shallots, sliced
3 dried chillies, soaked and cut into 1cm lengths
Leaves from 1 sprig of curry leaves
2 tbsp cooking oil
Steam the prawns until tender. Cool and chop finely (do not mince; you want little chunks).
Mix prawns with grated coconut, chilli powder, turmeric powder, black pepper, cumin powder and salt. Set aside.
Heat oil in a wok and fry the sliced shallots, dried chillies and curry leaves over medium heat until shallots are golden.
Add prawn mixture and fry, stirring constantly, until dry and coconut turns lightly golden. Adjust seasoning if necessary.