Big plus of growing up in a vegetarian household is that when you actually grow up and start cooking in your own kitchen and dabble into the “non-veg” realm, you are not fixated on cooking only a certain type of food. It is one thing to take pride in your culinary heritage, another to claim “my way or the highway”. In my home kitchen we travel the length and the breadth of our country and sometimes cross over to foreign lands too. Helps when you are married to your biggest fan who is always an enthusiastic audience to your cooking endeavours (at times disasters).
Karandi Pie is much like the Shepherd’s Pie, but with spicy onion based prawn filling. Karandi are prawns of a smaller variety, but more flavourful than its slightly bigger counterpart. This is the kind of pie that a Marathi grandmom of Pathare Prabhu(PPs) community would bake on stove-top ovens in the early 1900s. PPs are one of the initial dwellers of Bombay, much like Parsis and Kolis. They’re are known to be very progressive and adapted to the West and their modern cooking techniques like baking, back then. They have a very interesting culinary heritage of “fusion food” in the true sense of it. Traditional recipes with modern outlook. Savoury puddings, sour dough bread, fritters, hand rolled pastas, shortcrust crescent pastries, all of these evolved during the era of “Raj”. Karandi cha pie is one such.
Be warned – 1) The dry prawns masala that goes in as a filling is going to be super hard to resist to not eat wrapped up in a leftover roti or a slice of bread. Better still, make extra! Settle the matter. 2) Battles will be fought on the dinner table over the crunchy caramelized crust that forms at the edge of pie dish. If you are cooking it, scrape off a little bit in the kitchen itself on the pretext of checking for doneness.. heh..
Recipe inspired and adapted from here
:: For the filling-
200 gms of deshelled karandi/tiny white prawns (google to check how they look)
3-4 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
7-8 garlic cloves, pounded
1/4th tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp Pathare Prabhu Sambhar Masala / Or any other garam masala, preferable meat masala
1 tsp chilly powder, adjust heat to your liking
a generous pinch of dry mango powder (amchur)
salt to taste
handful of shelled peas, fresh or frozen, pre-boiled
handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp oil
:: For the pie crust-
4 medium-sized potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 tsp cumin powder
half tsp chilly powder
salt to taste, (preferably under salt to balance with the filling)
egg yolk lightly beaten (for final eggwash)
Here’s how I made it-
1) Heat oil in a wok and add pounded garlic. Sauté briefly.
2) Add onion and fry till translucent.
3) Add all the masalas – turmeric, chilly powder, coriander powder, garam masala, amchur, sauté till fragrant.
4) Add prawns and boiled peas, season with salt and mix till the masalas are well coated. Cook on high heat to completely dry this out.
5) Check doneness and seasoning. Adjust salt and chilly powder, if necessary. Top it with chopped coriander. Take it off the heat and let it come to room temperature before filling it in the pie.
6) For pie crust, to the mashed potatoes add all the seasonings listed under “pie crust”, except egg yolk. Make a homogeneous mixture, divide it in 2 equal parts.
7) In a well-greased pie dish, press one part of the potato mash to cover the base of the dish. On top of this, spread evenly the prawns masala. Cover this with the final layer of leftover mash, seal from all the ends, if feeling creative and fancy create a crisscross pattern with a fork on the mash. Finally brush the top with oil.
8) In a preheated oven, bake the pie at 180 degrees C for 20-25 minutes or till browned, especially at the edges.
9) Bring it out of the oven, liberally brush with egg wash and return to the oven to bake for another 5-7 minutes or till it acquires golden colour.
10) Serve hot, with garlic bread on the side.