Ever wanted to try a curry that’s just a little bit different? Well, today, you are in for a treat! King Prawn Pathia combines loads of amazing flavours; meaty and juicy prawns, a touch of Indian spice and a fair hint of sweetness. The best thing is that it is no more difficult to make than any other curry. I’m going to show you how Indian takeaways make pathia, and you can create it at home.
What is Pathia?
Pathia is a blending of flavours and cultures. While it is a curry (obviously), it isn’t exclusively what you would call ‘Indian’. It is thought that pathia is a curry that originated not in India but in Persia.
Along with many other restaurant favourites, it was adopted by the curry houses of the UK.
While pathia is savoury, it is also sweet. If I had to give it a flavour profile, I’d say that pathia is hot, sweet and sour. You can tone the hotness down if you wish by using less chilli in the recipe.
The sweetness traditionally comes from jaggery, which is a form of unrefined, unprocessed sugar. You’ll find many restaurants use different ingredients to add sweetness. Some use sugar, some use mango, and some use pineapple juice!
The dish was traditionally given its sourness with the use of tamarind… Yeah, good luck finding that in a curry house in the ’70s and ’80s! You’ll find that you can recreate a similar taste with lime juice! It also includes other sour elements, such as vinegar.
Is King Prawn Pathia Spicy?
This is all down to personal taste. As you’ll probably know, ‘spicy’ is a very subjective term. If you are used to a hot curry like a Madras, chances are you won’t find our king prawn pathia recipe too spicy.
Traditionally, pathia is supposed to be just a little hot. On a curry scale, most people would probably describe it as ‘medium’.
In my recipe, you’ll see that I include just a little Kashmiri chilli powder. This tends to be a little hotter than regular chilli powder.
What is the Difference Between Pathia and Dhansak?
The two actually have a very similar flavour profile. Both are hot, sweet and slightly sour. However, the main difference with a dhansak is that it is made with lentils. These are stewed down and thicken the sauce slightly.
Did you want a Dhansak instead? No problem. You’ll find the recipe just here!
How to Make King Prawn Pathia (BIR Style)
Ok, so full disclosure. This is slightly more involved than a few of my other recipes.
But trust me, this is well worth it!
You’ll find that many Indian recipes use spiced oil. This is all good and well if you’ve cooked about 100 onion bhajis the night before, but for most of us, this isn’t possible.
There’s an easier way, and that is to flavour your oil just before you cook. I do this by using a few cumin seeds and also some chopped up onions.
After that, I add my curry spices to make a masala. These toast a little and release their flavours into the oil.
Now, if you were using chicken or another meat in your pathia, this would be the time to add it. But…
And it’s a big but…
With king prawns, you’ve got to do it slightly differently… Here’s why.
When you overcook prawns, they tend to shrink and turn rubbery. Add them too early, and you’ll end up with tiny little prawns. For this reason, I add them toward the end of the cooking process. In fact, it’s one of the last things I do.
So you’ve flavoured your oil, toasted the spices. Now it’s time to go in with your tomato puree. If you don’t know how to use tomato puree in BIR curry, now’s the time to learn. I’ve got an article focusing on it just here.
Once the tomato has cooked down, we add base gravy and our flavouring elements (sugar, mango chutney, and lime juice). We let these bubble away, and only then do we add our prawns and another helping of base gravy.
Why lime juice and not tamarind?
Listen, I am trying to make this an easy king prawn pathia recipe. ‘Easy’ in my book doesn’t involve trying to find tamarind. It’s not often used, so it doesn’t make sense to buy pots of it. The taste is hardly any different. If you’ve got tamarind, feel free to use that instead, but I’m sticking with lime juice… Hello pathia, goodbye scurvy!
We finish the dish off with chopped coriander, and that’s it!
Top Tips when Making King Prawn Pathia
Buying fresh tiger prawns can be a real pain. I find the best solution is to buy a few bags of frozen raw king prawns. A couple of hours before you cook the curry, drop them in a bowl of cold water and leave them to defrost… DON’T thaw them in hot water.
Any sour element will work well in this Pathia recipe. If you’ve gone all posh and got real tamarind, go for it. Things I’ve used in the past include lemon juice or white wine vinegar.
The sweet element is also interchangeable. As I said, feel free to try pineapple juice in place of the mango chutney. White sugar works just as well as brown sugar. You could even try sweetener if you are really stuck!
The chilli is optional, so if you want to make a mild pathia recipe, please leave it out entirely.
Experiment with flavouring your oil. I used cumin seeds in this recipe, but you could also try mustard seeds, powdered cumin or maybe even a couple of cloves!
If you haven’t made garlic and ginger paste, you can chop up a clove of garlic and a thumb-size piece of ginger and use it in exactly the same way
Don’t feel limited by the prawns. Chicken Pathia is equally as nice. Prawns cook much quicker than chicken. However, if you go down this route, add the chicken right after adding the onions and cook until it is browned.
This is exactly how the chef in my old kitchen used to cook a king prawn pathia. I don’t know where they got the prawns from, but they were huge! What’s your favourite curry? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see if I can dig out my old ‘curryspy’ scrapbook and include it in the blog.