Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I - Isso Curry (Prawn Curry)

A photograph of Isso Curry (Prawn Curry)
Isso curry

“Curries, which are inevitably part of every meal, are not necessarily classified according to the main ingredients, but according to the type of spicing, the method of cooking or the colour, which, to the initiate, conveys a whole lot more than just whether a curry is white, red or black.”

– Charmaine Solomon, ‘The Complete Asian Cookbook’

More photographs inside.
A photograph of a Prawn

Call us cheaters, but honestly, we couldn’t find a single savoury dish in our battery of cookbooks which started with ‘I’.  So here we are with the dish of the week – Isso curry – and I must admit, I was actually quite thrilled at the opportunity to try my hand at this dish.

A photograph of Prawns

Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t have rice and curry feeds all that often – twice a month at the most, I think. We like experimenting too much to only eat rice and curry, but we do miss it and that’s when we cook up a storm of curry in the kitchen. Our “ordinary” rice and curry meal usually consists of a chicken curry (made by Dev who declares that his is better than mine even though I taught him how to make it), dhal, beans thel dala and pol sambol. We don’t often mix things up because of the very fact that we don’t have this meal all that frequently.

A photograph of the ingredients for a Prawn Curry
The other ingredients

I have been thinking lately though, that I should learn how to cook more Sri Lankan food, and this week’s entry provided the perfect opportunity. When I do venture beyond our tried and tested menu for rice and curry, I usually turn to Charmaine Solomon’s massive tome of recipes which has a comprehensive section on Sri Lanka. I have tried recipes from some other books, but it’s the recipes from this one that help me reproduce the flavours we grew up with.

A photograph of all the ingredients for a prawn curry
All in the pot

This recipe for a classic red prawn curry was beautifully uncomplicated.  All the ingredients just went into a large saucepan which was brought to a slow simmer and everything was left to their own devices to magically turn into a lovely rich red curry. The recipe encourages you to leave the shells on the prawns, and to remove only the head and flavour was definitely enhanced because of this. We served this curry with tempered basmati rice, cashew curry (another experiment which turned out so magnificently well, it threatened to overshadow the success of the isso curry!), mint sambol, brinjal pickle and tomato chutney. It was a perfect Sunday lunch to share with friends and we were so replete with food by the end of the meal that we ended up having to skip dinner!

A photograph of Isso Curry (Prawn Curry)
Isso Curry

Technical Info

This lighting setup was used for the photograph above.
The lighting setup for prawn curry
Lighting Setup - Isso Curry

Fill light for this shot was from a Canon 580 EX II fired at 1/4th and zoomed to 24mm. this strobe was bounced off the ceiling.

The key light was a Canon 430 EX II fired at 1/64th from camera left and zoomed to 70mm.

The other photographs on this post were lit by bouncing a flash off the ceiling or a wall close to the subject.

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