In North Karnataka, Mangalore and Goa fish is an integral part of life. Added to delicate curries, lightly shallow fried, deep fried or added to spicy masala dishes just to mention a few preparations amongst many, fish is the staple at many meals if not all the meals. The palates of Goans and Mangaloreans have come accustomed to particular fish cooked in a particular way and other methods or styles of cooking fish are merely endured. These meticulous taste buds have made the region known for its fish. After all Goan fish curry is loved all over India as is Delhi butter chicken, Bengali rasogullas and Mumbai Pav Bhaji.
These same coastal appetites turn their heads when it comes to Tandoori Fish. Tandoored fish is considered to be flavourless , overpriced fish sold at restaurants to tourists coming to eat seafood for their annual holiday. Being a hard core coastal fish lover I am happy when my husband, who cannot tell the difference between mackerel and surmai, orders any type of seafood at all from the menu. Hinting to him to order fish or prawns has the perks of later sampling and so when he made his own choice of tandoori jhinga I was satisfied thinking that tandoori seafood is better than tandoori chicken. He was only able to eat half of the dish citing that it was just too much fish so I dug in to the large prawns… and I was hooked. My feeling for tandoored fish transformed into a love affair that I did not know could exist.
Sen Mathew is the main chef of the Wharf Restaurant in GRT Temple Bay Resort in Mahablipurm, Tamil Nadu. Specializing in seafood The Wharf is aptly situated on the beach with only a short wall barrier. With its scenic location and proximity to busy Chennai the place is nearly always full and reservations are recommended.
Dishes such as grilled Norwegien salmon and baked lobster are delicately and skillfully made by head chef, Sen Mathew. I have sampled tandoori jhinga at many places and the more often than not the prawns are not fresh, the tandoori masala is artificilly red, the dish is too spicy or too dry or is just ok, but Chef Sen’s dish was a fresh a perfect blend of flavours that gave pleasant punch to the senses.
Chef Sen spent some time with us after a busy lunch crowd. His recipe for Tandoori Jhingha had a few secret touches which he was happy to share.
Tandoori Jhinga by Chef Mathew
Ingredients: Tiger Prawns, peeled and cleaned –1 kg,
For Marination: hung curds—1/2 cup, roasted and crushed dhania powder—3 tsp, roasted garam masala including cardamom, anise, cinnamon and cloves, cumin powder—3tsp
For topping: pinches of chat masala, black salt, chillie powder and amchur powder
Method: Marinate prawns for 4 hours or more. Add them to a skewer and put them in a hot tandoor or preheated oven on roast mode.