Why I Don’t Like Food Colouring, and Tandoori Prawn

Because it’s cheating. That was a simple answer wasn’t it? Well really, I have no problem with food colouring when food is intended to be coloured (like rainbow cake, which is awesome), but I feel that it’s somehow unfair to colour savoury food to make it more pretend-tasty than it is.

I don’t have a problem with mock-meat though. I actually quite like it. I suppose the thought process is that mock meat is a meant to be a trick rather than fresh food anyway, so anything that makes it more exciting is a plus point.

Anyway, the reason why this came up is because apparently, tandoori uses red food colouring. I did not know this. Naive me, thinking that the red comes from secret spices!

The happy ending to this story is that you don’t need to use food colouring to get the nice red colour on these tandoori prawns, you only need to add enough chilli powder. Not a problem, I like chilli powder.

What follows is a surprisingly easy recipe for a surprisingly tasty dish. Take it from someone who usually avoids tandoori in restaurants because I’ve never had one I liked – too dry every time. I only tried making this because I had something similar to tandoori chicken at Bel’s place a week or so ago. Actually it might have been tandoori, I should have asked. I didn’t think it was tandoori because it tasted too good. This didn’t taste the same (so is it tandoori? or not tandoori?), but it’s okay, as I’ve mentioned I’m not exactly the most authentic of kitchen-experimenters around here.
Tandoori Prawn

Based on Aaplemint’s recipe, with a few exclusions depending on what I had in the kitchen. Specifically, I swapped out cumin powder for cumin seeds, and didn’t use any tandoori masala (you’re supposed to use a teaspoonful).

200g prawns – that’s about 10 or 12 depending on how big your prawns are
3 tablesp yoghurt
3 cloves of garlic
1 knob of ginger, about 1cm long and not too thick – like your little finger
Juice of a small green lime
1.5 teasp cumin seeds
2-3 teasp chilli powder – I used closer to 3 teasp
A pinch of salt

  1. De-shell and de-vein the prawns, leaving the tail on. That’s so you have a convenient little handle to grab the prawn with.  I dumped mine in icy water afterwards while doing everything else, so that they would get nice and bouncy (restaurant tips!)
  2. Grate the garlic and ginger using the small holes on the grater (the one you use for parmasan cheese). Careful of your fingers, no one likes skin in their food.
  3. Dump all the other ingredients in a bowl with the garlic and ginger. Mix mix.
  4. Put the prawns in, and let them sit in the mixture for at least 2 hours, preferably. I’ll openly admit I only marinated for about half an hour and it turned out fine, but the taste is probably better if you marinate longer.
  5. Now I don’t have a grilling pan to finish it off, and I think it’d also work on a barbeque, but if you’re like me and don’t have any of these items….turn the oven on grill setting. Put the prawns in a non-stick baking tray and place the tray right up near the grilling elements. Wait about 5 minutes, until the prawns are a bit charred, then take them out and flip them over. Put them back in so that the other side gets charred too.

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