Prawn Okra Curry (Chennai Prawn Vendaki)

I am a big MasterChef Australia fan. The participants, judges and guests, variety of fresh ingredients, delicious food, inspiring innovation and altogether great attitude - all are so amazing. It's a great show to get some inspiration as well as useful cooking tips. I wrote this recipe down while watching a MasterChef class, probably, from season 2. The recipe is by Kumar Mahadevan. At that time, I was not very familiar with Tamil food (well, to be honest, I'm still not) and I was intrigued by this dish. I had to taste it! It did require some preparation, a little bit more effort and some loving - not something I would make after a loooong day in the office - but the result was surprisingly good from the very first attempt. I made it on several occasions since then and my hubby has nominated it as one of his favourite curries that I make :) Thank you Kumar!
It came out a little pale this time, but Kashmiri chili powder will give it a lovely red colour. In case you cannot get okra where you live, you may try making it with, for example, string beans.

You will need:
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds

100 g shallots (or red onion), chopped
100 g okra, trim and make small incision on one side

1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 generous tsp coriander powder
2 tsp red chili powder (or according to taste)
2 tomatoes, diced
~1 tbsp tamarind pulp

100 g ground coconut
2 tbsp chana dal (yellow split peas)

12-15 large prawns, cleaned (you can leave the heads and tails on for more flavour)
a couple sprigs of curry leaves

2-3 dried red chilies
oil for frying
salt to taste

1. Heat some oil, add the mustard seeds and fry on high heat till they stop popping. Add the fenugreek and cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds. Add the shallots/onion and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the okra, sprinkle with salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the okra and keep it aside.

2. Next, add the turmeric, coriander and red chili powders, add ~400 ml of water and bring it to a boil. Add the tamarind pulp and tomatoes, mix well, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for around 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, grind the coconut and chana dal in a food processor adding ~150 ml of water.

4. Next, add the prawns to the sauce, sprinkle with salt, cover and cook for another 3 minutes.

5. Stir in the coconut paste, add back the cooked okra and add half of the curry leaves. Mix it gently, cover the lid and continue cooking while you prepare the tempering.

6. For the tempering, heat some oil in a small pan and fry the dried red chilies on high flame till black and blistered. Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining curry leaves to the hot oil. Pour the tempering into the curry, cover the lid and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve hot with rice.