I love seafood, specially prawns and crabs. So when I saw fresh tiger prawns in the market, happily bought a bagful of those beauties. I usually prepare prawns in traditional Bengali way or try to do something very simple. This time, I marinated the prawns in some freshly made harissa paste and grilled them.
Harissa is a very spicy chili sauce, from Tunisia. It is sometimes referred as the national condiment of Tunisia. The main ingredient in this sauce is chili, along with garlic and other spices like coriander, caraway, cumin. There are several variations of this sauce, addition of red bell pepper, tomato, onion depending on ones taste makes this sauce a versatile one, But remember this is a very spicy sauce, a good amount of red chili goes into this. It can be made milder using milder chilies, or using roasted red bell pepper or tomato.
I used some roasted red bell pepper, to bring down the heat, the roasted bell pepper gives the sauce a smoky flavor too. I added coriander, caraway and cumin to the sauce and used dry red chilies for the heat. I used the common Indian dry red chilies, which are quite hot. Different chilies like chipotle, ancho, or milder chilies like Kashmiri red chilies can also be used.
Harissa can be used in several different ways, to cook rice, vegetables, tofu, paneer, meat, or as a spread over pizza.
Things needed to make Harissa Grilled Prawns:Serves: 6
- Prawn: 500 gms
- Salt: 1 tsp
- Lime juice: 2 tsp
For the harissa sauce:
- Dry red chili: 1/4 cup
- Garlic: 4-5 cloves
- Caraway seeds: 1 tsp
- Coriander seeds: 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
- Red bell pepper: 1
- Salt to taste
- Olive oil: 2 tbsp
- Sliced or wedged lime
- Fresh mint leaves
- Olive oil
Steps of making Harissa grilled prawns:
1. To make the roasted red bell pepper: Take a red bell pepper, wash and wipe off water. Grease the red pepper with olive oil and roast it on direct flame or inside an oven. If using an oven, place the red pepper on a baking sheet and place in a preheated oven at 200 C for 30-40 min. If cooking on direct flame, keep rotating the bell pepper till roasted evenly. When the red pepper turns charred remove from fire (or oven) and keep inside a paper bag for 15 min. Take out from the paper bag and carefully remove the charred skin, cut the head and discard the seeds and the membrane of the pepper. Chop the red pepper into small pieces. Keep aside.
2. To make the harissa sauce: Soak the red chilies in hot water for 15-20 min. Take out the red chilies from water cut and discard the seeds, roughly chop the chilies. In a grinder or food processor take coriander, caraway and cumin seeds and grind them to powder. Add chopped garlic, roasted red pepper and chopped red chilies, olive oil (2 tablespoons), salt, make a smooth paste. Store the paste in a air tight glass container. Pour olive oil on top of the harissa sauce for storage.
3. To grill the prawn: Clean the prawn, devein, pat dry and marinate with salt and lime juice. Add harissa paste to coat all the prawn pieces. Marinate for 15-20 min. Put the prawns in skewers. Heat a griddle, grill the prawns for 3-4 min, keep turning in between. I was using small prawns, it took me 3-4 min to cook them. If the prawns are larger in size they will take more time to cook. Depending on the size of the prawns adjust the cooking time.
Serve immediately with lime slices or wedges. I added few fresh mint leaves.
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