For the ginger-garlic paste:
1 part fresh ginger, skin scraped off and flesh chopped
2 parts garlic, peeled and chopped (by volume)
For the rice:
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, sliced
2 handfuls of fresh coriander
2 handfuls of fresh mint, woody stalks discarded
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2-3 fresh green chillies, roughly chopped (seeds and all)
200g basmati rice, washed and drained
200g fresh raw king prawns, shelled, deveined and butterflied
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
First, make the ginger-garlic paste. Combine the ginger and garlic. If you are making a small amount, you can grate both or crush them using a pestle and mortar. You don’t need to discard the green ‘soul’ from the centre of the garlic; it is edible and any bitterness it has will add to the balance of flavours in the overall dish. If making a larger amount, blitz the peeled and chopped ginger and garlic in a blender, along with a little cold water to turn the blades and make a smooth paste.
You can store this paste in the fridge or freezer. Put it into a clean jam jar, top it up with oil (any cooking oil) and put it in the fridge. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. You will find that the oil layer may decrease with each scoop of paste used—just top it up as necessary.
To freeze the paste, either put it into ice cube trays, cover it with clingfilm and store in the freezer for up to 3 months, or put it into a freezer bag, lay this on a metal tray and freeze it flat. It becomes quite brittle and you can snap off as much as you need for each recipe. While ginger-garlic cubes need thawing, the bits broken off from a flat sheet can be added directly to the pan.
Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy-based saucepan and fry the onion on a high heat for 3-4 mins. Meanwhile, tear the coriander (leaves and stems) and the mint leaves into a blender. Add 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste and chillies and whizz to as fine a paste as possible, adding 200ml cold water to turn the blades smoothly.
Add the rice to the onion, stir gently a few times to mix and then add 200ml boiling water. Stir in the green herby paste. Add the prawns and season with salt, mixing lightly.
Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer on the lowest setting for roughly 15 mins, without taking the lid off. Turn off the heat and leave it covered for a further 5 mins to finish cooking in the steam. Remove the lid and run a fork through the rice to loosen it. Serve the rice mixture hot, drizzled with the lemon juice.
Recipe: Monisha Bharadwaj from Indian in Seven (Kyle Books)