Pan-grilled prawns

I don’t own a barbecue. I don’t even own one of those fancy stove-top grills. What I do have, however, is my trusty old cast iron skillet. I use it for practically everything—dosas, uttappas, thalipeeths and other members of the crepe and pancake family, eggs, bhakris, quesadillas, and sandwiches. I also use it to smoke finely chopped bell peppers or capsicums for dips and raitas. Given the limited kitchen space I live in and the fabulous results of my skillet, I doubt I will ever go barbecue shopping.

Here is one of my favorite things to do with the skillet—grilled prawns. Actually, anything on a satay stick is fun to grill, don’t you think? These prawn kebabs/tikkas/satay (whatever you choose to call it) are so ridiculously easy to make and so succulent, you’ll find yourself armed with a hot skewer while you’re laying out the second batch on the skillet. I have offered these prawns to several happy guests, who are delighted to get hot, smoky prawn skewers, a la tandoor, in my small balcony-less, terrace-less, garden-less, porch-less flat in suburban Mumbai. Pair these Chinese-inspired grilled prawns with a cool dip or salsa, and all you need is good friends and a chilled beer to face the impossible Mumbai summer.


  • 2 cups of medium-sized prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 2 tsp. Kashmiri red chili powder (reduce to 1 tsp. if using regular red chili powder)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar (I used Champagne-style)
  • 1 tsp. chili-infused light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable/peanut/sesame oil to aid grilling
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon


  1. Place all the ingredients, except the prawns, lemon juice, and oil, in a coffee blender and grind to a paste. Decant into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Marinate the prawns in this mixture for about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, soak the satay sticks in some water. This will make skewering easier.
  4. Thread three to four prawns on each stick. If you’re using large prawns—like tiger prawns, do one prawn on each stick, head to tail.
  5. Heat an iron skillet or pan to smoking point. Spray or lightly dot the skillet with oil of choice.
  6. Place the skewers on the hot grill, and allow a minute to cook on one side before turning. Cook on the second side for half a minute.
  7. Squeeze on some lemon juice.
  8. Hand out, smoking hot, to waiting guests (making sure you’ve got one for yourself) or place on a platter and serve with a cool dip/raita/salsa. Although, chances are, no one will have the patience to dip these into anything but their mouths.

Note: These work very well in wraps–use leftover grilled prawns with a dressing (like Thousand Island) and loads of lettuce in soft tortillas or chappatis for a filling snack. 

Comments (10)

  1. Khaugiri June 2, 2011 at 5:59 am

    Wow it is so tempting…..

  2. Anonymous June 2, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Those prawns are suppppper tempting! Love the pic of these on a plate with a lemon…Yummmm!!!!Cast Iron Skillet seems to be the pan of the season, Nupur's been raving about it and now you too! I guess I will end up buying one soon….all because of u guys!!! 😛

  3. Linda June 2, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Even tho I do own a BBQ grill I find myself indoors on my cast iron grill more often than not! How great they look so uniformly placed on the skewers! The red coloring screams Spicey! and that's how I like my food!

  4. Aarthi June 3, 2011 at 10:08 am have so many good recipes…I am having a giveaway in my blog..if you want please check and join that…

  5. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella June 3, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I don't own a bbq yet either although come Summer I'm going to really wish that I did so I could make these!

  6. Anonymous June 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Saee, How is Mrs.B? You haven't mentioned her in a while. I loved reading ur posts on Mrs.B and her substitute Mrs.A, if I am not wrong that's how the blog took off with these stories and recipes from ur life. Your stories are always a pleasure to read and recipes are interesting too! I love visiting ur blog. I hope I get to meet u in person some day. You seem to be a genuinely nice person, ur family and friends are lucky to have you.

    Love and kisses to Avanee.

    – Priti

    P.S. If you like reading stories or incidents related to food alongwith the recipes. I recommend you a book by Monica Bhide 'Modern Spice'. I have borrowed it numerous times from the library and devoured her stories alongwith the recipes. I love reading the stories again and again, their simplicity is enchanting.

  7. healthyfeasts June 6, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Delicious!! I am going to try them soon- despite monsoons having hit Mumbai by now.. who really needs an excuse for succulent prawns and chilled beer? 🙂

  8. Saee Koranne-Khandekar June 6, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Thank you for your comments, everyone! I hope you have fun making these!
    @Priti: Mrs. B is right here–I'll do a post on her soon. How nice of you to remember her! And yes, I'd love to meet up. Where are you based?
    I've been reading Monica Bhide's blog for a while but haven't picked up a book, yet. I do like her simple style and modern take on traditional recipes, though.
    @healthyfeasts: Couldn't agree more!

  9. Anonymous June 7, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Hi Saee,

    I live in the US but I am from Mumbai. I have been reading ur blog regularly and absolutely love it! Hey I just mentioned Monica's book here and coincidentally it is being offered as a giveaway at another blog I regularly check – Ria's Collection. She's giving away one copy to someone from India and who knows you might just win it! 🙂 I hope u do cause ur my favorite!!!!

    – Priti

  10. Recipes For Bbq August 26, 2011 at 3:18 am

    I am very impressed by the bbq recipes you have given here. I must say that to throw a good bbq party all cuisines and recipes should be arranged in an attractive way.. Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipes, it's yummy.

    Recipes For Bbq

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