Although the names 'prawns' and 'shrimp' can be used interchangeably, there is a small difference between the two. Prawns have a gill structure, larger legs and claws while shrimps are smaller on all of those accounts. In some countries, prawns are often known as large shrimps. But usually, the name differs geographically. For example, in the United Kingdom both prawns and shrimps are known as prawns while in the United States and Australia they're all referred to as shrimp.
In India, prawns and shrimp are mostly referred to as 'prawns' and celebrated as the hero ingredient across many regional cuisines, especially in the South of India. Chettinad Eral Kuzhambu or chettinad prawn curry, Kerala prawn fry, prawn vindaloo which is infused with vinegar, Bengali prawn malai curry, prawn balchao and the all-time-favourtie, prawn tikka masala.
Fresh water prawns need to be peeled and deveined before they can be fried or dunked straight into curries. The big, king-sized prawns also need to be peeled but are best cooked whole. To peel the prawns, pinch slightly behind the head and twist the body. Raise the shells and legs from the body, keep the tail if you'd like. Pull out the long black thread with the knife.
How to Cook Prawns
You could pick out frozen prawns or buy fresh ones. If you're picking out the frozen ones then make sure to completely defrost them before you cook. Prawns might be easy to cook but they dry out even more easily. So try to avoid cooking them on a high flame. Instead, opt for poaching. Dunk the prawns into simmering water and let them cook through and through. You could also try steaming - marinate the prawns and shove them in a microwave till they're cooked and curled up small. Pan sauteing and frying are also two popular methods that you could save for fancier occasions.
To prove just how versatile an ingredient this is, we've put together a collection of prawn recipes from some top Indian and international chefs. From coconut-y fried prawns to the long time favourtie prawn balchao - here's everything you need.
1. Kerala Fried Prawns
Recipe by Joey Matthew
This dish unearths the richness of the 'land down under', its marvelous seafood and its beautiful spices. Juicy prawns fried crisp in coconut oil, spluttering mustard seeds, crackling curry leaves, turmeric, fiery chillies and a drop of lemon.
2. Spicy Prawns with Sweet Dipping
Recipe by Ritu Dalmia
Watch Ritu Dalmia create magic! Tiger prawns tossed with onions, chilli and white wine, and then plated beautifully and served with a sweet orange marmalade sauce.
3. Spicy Sriracha Prawns with Basil
Recipe by Chef Divya Burman
Here's something extraordinary for all of you who can't get enough spicy food. Deshelled prawns cooked in a handful of ingredients - green chilli, sriracha chilli sauce, fish sauce, soft basil leaves and crunchy onions.
4. Prawn Curry
Recipe by Chef Mayawati
A bowl of plain white rice could not taste better than how they tastes with prawn curry. Take 5-6 garlic cloves, onions, coconut, coriander seeds and grind them to get a fine paste. Add water and dump the prawns till they cook through and through.
5. Guilt-Free Karwari Prawns
Recipe by Seema Chandra
Fried prawns do taste divine but they also add to your waistline. Take a look at this perfectly delightful recipe that's not only easy but also a healthy way of enjoying crispy fried prawns. Medium-sized prawns are coated in lime juice, turmeric, fennel powder, tamarind water, dipped in semolina and fried crisp.
6. Prawn Pulao
Recipe by Chef Aditya Bal
Rice cooked with beautifully marinated ginger, garlic prawns and smeared with a masala of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, chilli and a handful of more mind-blowing ingredients.
7. Malai Prawn Curry
Recipe by Chef Ishi Neogi, Laidback Waters, Delhi
A creamy curry delicately flavoured with coconut, milk, cinnamon, ginger and yoghurt.
8. Prawn Balcho
Recipe by Chef Kishore D Reddy
A spicy Goan masaledar curry cooked with a sensational sour paste, onions and some cashew-based Goan feni.
9. Prawn Pollichathu
Recipe by Chef Laiju Jameson (Taj Kumarakom, Kerala)
Kerala styled prawns cooked in lime juice, chilli, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeks, ginger, chopped garlic and coconut oil.
10. Koliwada Prawns
Recipe by Tara Deshpande
Fresh, deshelled prawns dipped in batter flavoured with cayenne pepper, ginger, garlic, carom seeds, lime juice and fried golden-brown.