Puli Inji Prawns: Prawns in Tamarind and Ginger sauce

Being born into a Maharashtrian Brahmin family usually means eating chincha-gulachi aamti (tamarind and jaggery based lentils) at least thrice a week. We have tongues that jiggle at the mere thought of tamarind. I love my chaat (Indian street food) a little heavy on the sonth or meethi chutney made from dates and tamarind. When I was pregnant, I ate copious amounts of Geeta’s Puliyogare Gojju. I ate it in rice and I ate it as is. By the spoonfuls. So when days go by without my dose of tamarind, i start having withdrawal symptoms that put PMS to shame. This dish is born out of a similar desperation.

Puli Inji is a Kerala-style chutney made primarily from tamarind and ginger. I decided to use this as a base to build my prawn dish on. I was doing a little victory dance as I cooked it because it was bursting in flavor and doing all the right things to my tongue. I ended up with a tangy sauce just mildly laced with the sweetness of the prawns accentuated by the jaggery and punctuated by the sharp freshness of the root ginger. I ate it with a simple steamed brown rice, but I imagine it would go very well with some lacy Kerala parottas or appams as well. If you like tangy stuff, you will thank me for this!

Puli Inji Prawns (Prawns in Tamarind and Ginger sauce)


  • 1 large cup medium-sized prawns (shelled and deviened)
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 1-inch piece fresh root ginger, julienned
  • 1 green chili, slit
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. tamarind paste dissolved in 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 small betelnut-sized ball of jaggery
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard seeds
  • a pinch asafetida
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • salt to taste


  1. Clean and wash the prawns. I like to keep the tails on as they add flavor and look pretty.
  2. Heat oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds, asafetida, turmeric, green chili, ginger, curry leaves, and onions in that order. Saute until the onions turn translucent.
  3. Tip in the prawns and saute for a scant minute.
  4. Add the watered down tamarind paste. Season with salt and cover. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until the prawns are almost done.
  5. Add the jaggery, stir, and reduce until the prawns are completely cooked (about another two minutes) and the sauce just coats the prawns. If you think there’s too much liquid in the wok but the prawns are already cooked, remove the prawns, reduce the sauce, and return the prawns to the work in the last minute or so.
  6. Serve piping hot with steamed rice and a pickle.
  7. Bless me.

Comments (9)

  1. healthyfeasts March 9, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Prawns in a tangy stir fry! yumm.. I usually use amsul for this. And jaggery with prawns… differently interesting!

  2. Anonymous March 9, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Simply Brilliant! 🙂 Bless you! 'Chincha-gul' is a match made in heaven's kitchen and ginger is their best buddy! Combining their magic with prawns takes it to a whole new level – my mouth is watering even as I type this! 😀 No kidding!

    Two questions for you –
    1) Which rice have you served? It is not as brown as brown rice but not as white as the polished one either. I really like that! When I found ambe-mohar here I felt like I won a lottery but my happiness was short lived when I noticed it was too white and wasnt as fragrant as it usually is.

    2) Do u get tamarind concentrate in India now? black or brown? I love the brown one as its closest to the real thing.

    – Priti

  3. Saee Koranne-Khandekar March 9, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Try it–the jaggery is just a wee bit–to accentuate the natural sweetness of the prawns.

  4. Saee Koranne-Khandekar March 9, 2012 at 5:39 am

    I've used an Organic Sona Masuri–it's an unpolished version and is quite fragrant. Ambe-mohor has become something of a rarity these days; liek you said, it has lost its characteristic fragrance 🙁

    A couple of Indian brands now make tamarind paste–both black and brown. I find that using a very diluted black paste works when you don't get the brown one. The best thing, of course, is the real tamarind–soaked and massaged in warm water like our grandmas would do!

  5. Anonymous March 9, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Yes, I agree. Tamarind paste is handy but Real tamarind is the best! 🙂 The flavor is unmatched and later our little idols of god would get a special scrub bath with the fiberous tamarind 🙂 which always made them shine happily.

    I have bought Sona Masoori now, but its ghostly white with no soul (fragrance). I should look out for organic next time. Thank You! 🙂

    – Priti

  6. Aarthi March 9, 2012 at 7:37 am

    This looks delicious..Totally YUMMY


  7. Snehal March 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    My best friend is from Kerala and I simply gorge on inji curry every time I go to her house. I don't eat seafood but I'm sure anything cooked with inji curry would taste great!

  8. notyet100 March 9, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Beautiful pics,..:) first time at ur space,,luv the name,,

  9. Swati Sapna March 10, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Ooooh! What a tongue-tickling recipe! I cannot imagine a better flavor combination than ginger-tamarind-jaggery and prawns… yummm!! I have just begun to discover some traditional Maharashtrian recipes including the Dal you mention and i love this sweet-sour combination 🙂

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *