Recipes from the Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival 2021
In 2014 when I first went into the kitchen with a hope to cook and serve, I had no idea I would be a chef that would end up presenting a masterclass at the Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival. It was a great pleasure meeting you all, and as promised, the recipes and cooking techniques for the Prawn Kofta and Prawn Kofta Curry are below for you to enjoy cooking the dishes that I presented to you, in your own kitchen, at home.
In 2020, after six years of growing East India Cafe in Cheltenham, we decided to sell and concentrate on Memsahib Gin and Tea Bar as well as other ventures. Rick Stein once said that ‘’cuisine reflects the culture’’ and that it is imperative that we now know what we eat and how we eat. For us, as chefs, the provenance of what we consume is crucial. We believe sustainable cooking means sourcing your ingredients ethically and locally, whilst the preparation of it should be centred around not only creating an incredible dish, but doing so whilst producing food with less waste. With the reopening of hospitality in the UK and learning from a very challenging year throughout the pandemic we decided to revise our menu and our food production with sustainability at the heart of what we do.
At Memsahib Gin and Tea Bar, we serve Anglo-Indian cuisine. It’s an amalgamation of Indian, European and Mughal cuisine, which was developed during the British rule in India. However, the way we like to eat nowadays has changed dramatically over the last decade, and with that in mind, we made the whole menu tapas-style dining and called it ‘Memsahib’s Picnic’.
Below are two recipes; one for a snack style Prawn Kofta and another for a curry style Prawn Kofta using a creamy coconut milk. You won’t find sustainably grown local prawns in the UK, and as a chef, we feel terrible to hold a block of shrimp that has travelled six to eight thousand miles to come to our kitchen. However, we believe we have addressed this issue with our Land Ocean Farm project, where we hope to produce white-legged shrimp in a biosecure environment using recirculating aquaculture technology. In a couple of years, you will be able to find Gloucestershire grown prawns in your local shop and being served in restaurants.
Sustainable food production requires education and learning, awareness and overall continuous practice and improvement. We really believe in this ethos at the Memsahib Gin and Tea Bar and also encourage our guests and followers, through our masterclasses, to practise the reduce, reuse and recycle strategy. This allows us to be fully responsible for the products we consume as well as the waste we create. Globally, around a third of all food produced is lost or wasted, which contributes between 8 – 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, food waste at home is a huge contributor to our emissions and reducing it can be so powerful in the fight against climate change. I also firmly believe that we can be that much closer to eradicating food poverty if we can achieve zero food waste, and especially so from commercial food production kitchens.
There is enough food for us all – we just need to be mindful in our consumption of it.
We would love to see how you have created these dishes at home – please do share with us and tag us on Instagram – @memsahibbar #memsahibathome
Preparation Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Frying Time: 2 to 4 minutes
Serves: 6 to 10
Equipment: Food processor and a frying pan
1 kg fresh king prawns, shelled with heads off
3 green chillies, medium to hot
2 large Spanish red chilli
2 inches of ginger
4 banana shallots, chopped
1 tbsp of roasted cumin, crushed
1 tbsp of turmeric powder
1 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tbsp of fine sea salt
⅓ cup of chopped coriander
1 tbsp of lemon juice
50 to 75 ml rapeseed oil /olive oil
Roll the chillies on your chopping board and then slice them in the middle. Shake them to deseed. Add to the food processor, along with the chopped ginger.
Add all the other ingredients, except for oil, coriander and prawns to the food processor and pulse a few times until it is all mixed and has formed a blended masala type mixture.
Now add the prawns and coriander and pulse again to mix and form a very thick and sticky paste.
Transfer to a bowl and keep in the fridge for around 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, heat a pan with oil. Once hot, try shallow frying a tester dumpling-sized kofta. Cook until it develops a golden brown colour. Have a taste and if necessary, adjust the seasoning. Then repeat the process with the rest of the mixture.
Alternatively – grease a roasting tray and place your prawn kofta to cook in the oven. Roast at 180 degrees in a preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes.
Prawn Koftas are always best when served and enjoyed hot! If you decide to roast them, they can be stored in the fridge for two to three days and can be reheated and fried again.
Prawn Kofta Curry
Preparation Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Frying Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Serves: 6 to 10
Equipment: Food processor and a medium-sized saucepan
Fried or roasted Prawn Kofta
3 medium-size onions, finely chopped
(it’s recommended to use a food processor to get the consistency)
2 tbsp of garlic and ginger paste
(same amount of ginger and garlic blended with little olive oil and turmeric – store in the fridge to reuse. It keeps best for more than 7 to 10 days)
1 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder (this type of chilli has less heat but more flavour and colour)
1 tbsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of garam masala
2 green cardamom pods
1 large bay leaf, break it into two
1-inch cinnamon stick
2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
1 can of coconut milk 400 ml (higher percentage of coconut extract) dilute it with 100 ml cold water
2 green chillies
75ml of cooking oil
Heat the pan and add oil. Fry all of the masala (cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon and clove) for a minute and a half or until your kitchen smells very aromatic.
Now add onions and saute on medium heat until it becomes medium golden brown – around four to five minutes.
Add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for one to two minutes.
On a very low heat, add all the ground masala (turmeric, Kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala) and cook for 30 seconds.
Add 100ml of water and cook until the oil rises slightly to the top (in Bengali, this process is called koshano, and it’s vital for a good thick consistency to the sauce).
Add tomatoes and 50ml of coconut milk and cook again until once again, the oil rises to the top.
Now add those fried or roasted Prawn Kofta and cover with a lid. Cook on a low heat for two minutes.
Now add the rest of the coconut milk and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.
Finish it up by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice and garnish it with a pinch of garam masala on top.
This prawn kofta curry goes well with steamed boiled rice and a little bit of onion and cucumber salad, as well as a hint of chat masala powder to balance all the five flavours together. I’m certainly a believer that curry does in fact taste better the next day so certainly do consider making this Prawn Kofta Curry in a batch and refrigerating or freezing to store. It’s a great way to plan at home and a really efficient way to cook and eat what you need.