Prawn Moily

Adapted from The Essential Kerala Cookbook  by Vijayan Kannampilly .

This dish is simple to prepare but delivers great flavours. It could serve equally well as a weeknight or dinner party dish. Moily is eaten in Kerala accompanied by soft rice based bread (pathiri) or pancake (appam) but you could eat it with rice if you prefer. You can use fish instead of prawns in this recipe. I have also made a version in which I substituted star anise for the cinnamon (as I did not have any) and that was terrific.

Serves 4


500 gm prawns (shelled weight)

juice of 2 limes or lemons

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic

3 cloves

1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp whole coriander seeds

2 tsp whole black pepper

3 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil

¾ cup finely chopped red onion

2 -3 green chillies, finely chopped

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger

12 curry leaves

½ cup coconut milk


Blend the lime juice with the turmeric powder and salt and marinate the prawns in this for 30 minutes.

Grind the garlic, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and black pepper together and then blend with 1-2 tablespoons of water to make a paste.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep-sided fry pan; add the onions, green chillies, ginger and curry leaves and fry until the onions soften. Stir in the ground spice paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the prawns and stir these around for 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and continue to stir until the prawns are cooked through.