Bengali Marrow and Prawn Curry

By Biman Nandi & Piotr Mierkowski

We grow marrows in our garden from seeds sown out during May. This year, because the weather was cooler and less sunny than most summers, we harvested only three medium size marrows in early September. Still it has been very satisfying to watch how the marrow plant grows, trailing its way fast up the trellis fast and soon producing large gorgeous dark green leaves and proliferation of stunning yellow flowers throughout the season. By the way, flowers can also be eaten, especially tasty when battered and fried. What is more exciting than growing your own fruits and vegetables, and making them into tasty dishes!

This light and easy to make curry is a perfect late summer or early autumn dish when marrows are widely available. Biman’s recipe uses the whole marrow, its creamy flesh, seeds and edible skin, so out of one medium marrow we enjoy two different dishes that complement each other. At home, we eat marrow and prawn curry with freshly steamed basmati rice sprinkled with the fried marrow skins on the top, but it can also be served by itself with a naan or plain paratha. If you are a vegetarian, this curry is perfectly tasty without prawns. In any case don’t forget the last trick and add a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon or lime to bring out even more flavour of this humble curry dish. Bon appetite!

Ingredients for Bengali Marrow & Prawn Curry:

  • 1 medium to large marrow
  •  2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 dried red chilli (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1-2 small green chilli finely chopped (according to taste)
  • 150-200g prawns (raw or ready cooked; defrost before if frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (adjust to taste at the end of cooking)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves (roughly chopped)

Method for Bengali Marrow & Prawn Curry:

  1. Peel away the tough outer skin of the marrow with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, then cut it into very thin shreds and reserve it for later to make the second dish.
  2. Chop marrow into manageable pieces and chop each piece into thin strips. Don’t throw away the seeds! They are good for you and add texture to the dish.
  3. In the large pan heat up the oil. When it is almost smoking reduce the heat and throw in one red chilli, and fry it until nearly black (approx. 2 minutes).
  4. Then add one whole bay leaf together with cumin seeds, which will start popping.
  5. When the cumin seeds finish popping add all the flesh of the marrow, chopped green chilli and salt. Cover with the lid and cook on medium heat until soft 20-25 minutes.
  6. During cooking a large amount of water will come out of the marrow, so take the lead off, increase the heat and cook until liquid has reduced (20-30 minutes or so). All timing depends on the size of the marrow, so keep an eye stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  7. Add the rest of the ground spices and sugar, mix well and continue cooking until most of the liquid evaporates, and the mixture thickens but remains moist.
  8. Add prawns and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes or until prawns are cooked.
  9. Taste and add more salt if required. Add the chopped coriander leaves and keep it aside until serving.

Ingredients for Fried Marrow Skins:

  • reserved earlier, thinly shredded skin of 1 medium to large marrow
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 dried red chilli (optional)
  • 1/4 red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp whole mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp white poppy seeds (optional)
  • pinch of salt (according to taste)Method for Fried Marrow Skins:
  1. In the wok or large frying pan heat up the oil. When it is almost smoking reduce the heat and throw in one red chilli, and fry it until almost black (approx. 2 minutes).
  2. Add mustard seeds and as they start popping cover immediately with the lid.
  3. When the seeds stop popping add the finely chopped marrow skins followed by the ground spices and salt. Mix all the ingredients well, cover with the lid and cook for approximately 30 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.
  4. If you are using poppy seeds add them 3-4 minute before finishing the cooking.

UKAGP Newsletter, Autumn 2021
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