The East Indian prawn chili fry is a simple saute of onions, potatoes, and spices. Today, we make it with prawns but chicken and other meats work too. We serve with rice roti appas or chapati for a quick meal.
The humble chili fry is poor man’s food because most of the ingredients used are inexpensive and mostly pantry staples. But, best of all it is a quick meal, especially on busy weekday nights.
Growing up mom made this prawn chili fry (with shrimps) often mostly with small shrimps, a few potatoes, and lots of onions. Now, this dish does have lots of onions but the secret is to cook the onions until they are almost caramelized. That’s what makes this simple dish really special.
Ingredients and substitutes
- Onions – I like to use a combination of pungent brown with sweet red Spanish onions. While the brown onions hold their shape well the sweet condenses down and caramelizes beautifully.
- Potatoes – You want to cut these into small cubes. That way they become soft on the inside and get toasted around the edges.
- Garlic – a few silvers go a long way
- Tomatoes – one large tomato is cut into slices. This adds moisture to the dish along with taste and flavor.
- Chilies – You can use spicy red or green chilies for this chili fry. Trust me you do want a little spice in there.
- Vinegar – helps marry all the flavors together. You can use lemon juice but I prefer apple cider vinegar.
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- 1 cup Prawns or shrimp
- 3 tbsp Vegetable oil
- 2 large Onions thinly sliced
- 2 med Potatoes peeled and diced into small cubes
- 1 large Tomato sliced
- 2 med Chilies red or green
- ½ tsp Turmeric powder
- ½ tsp Chili powder or cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp Vinegar
- 1 tsp Sugar
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp Black pepper
- ¼ cup Chopped cilantro
- Prawns – Clean the prawns by removing the shells but leaving the tails. Devein them and pat them dry. Then, season with salt and pepper. Set aside.1 cup Prawns or shrimp
- Saute – In a frying pan add 2 tbsp of oil and saute the onions until almost golden brown. Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, and turmeric powder. Continue to cook stirring frequently.3 tbsp Vegetable oil, 2 large Onions, 2 med Potatoes, ½ tsp Turmeric powder
- Spice – Once the potatoes are tender, add the tomatoes, chopped chilies, and chilly powder.1 large Tomato, 2 med Chilies, ½ tsp Chili powder
- Prawns – Move the onion and potato mixture and make space in the center of the frying pan. Add, the remaining oil and the prawns. Cook the prawns in the center for 2 to 4 minutes or until just pink in color. Pro tip – I like to isolate the prawns in the center of the pan for the first few minutes. This reduces the fishy smell adding to the whole dish.
- Assemble – Once the prawns are pink in color combine them with the rest of the ingredients in the pan. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes more until the prawns are tender. Add the vinegar, sugar, and chopped cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning.1 tbsp Vinegar, 1 tsp Sugar, ½ tsp Kosher salt, ½ tsp Black pepper, ¼ cup Chopped cilantro
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