MR NAGA HUTKI LOTHA PRAWNS
PREPARE YOUR LOTHA: If you are using the frozen kind then defrost it in a bowl of warm water.
PREPARE YOUR PRAWNS. I peel the prawns and keep the tails on as i love the crunch on it and it also helps flavour the stock (fact: all the flavour is in the shells). Devein them, wash them, dry them, marinate them with 1/2tsp salt and 1tsp turmeric lightly and keep aside.
PREPARE THE HUTKI: Descale the small pieces of dried fish by running it under a running tap, holding the tale and using your fingers scrape towards the fish hutki head and the scales will quickly fall off. Discard the scales. discard the head also as its bitter. Once this is done i add 1 cup of water in a simmering pot and boil the hutki (5mins). The flesh may melt within the stock and the bones will separate. Just boil until boiling point and not for too long or else you will lose the flavour of the dried fish. On the top you may get foam scum which you can disgard. You need the stock so strain and keep aside.
THE BASE: Caramelise the sliced onion in a pot. To successfully caramelise you do not add salt in the beginning. Add salt straight after the onions begin to take the colour brown. This step takes approximately a good 15-20mins. Add salt. Rich deep brown onions is what you’re after. This is the most important stage of cooking this dish.
Add the garlic. Time for spices: chilli powder, kashmiri chilli powder which will give the lovely red colour and coriander powder.. My mother in law adds 1 small tsp rajah mild madras curry powder, this is optional. I don’t.
Keep stirring this fiery base sauce. If it catches add a bit of oil and some spoonfuls of the hutki stock. Do this imminently. Cook the sauce keep stirring and slowly add hutki stock. Back and forth back and forth until you have used up most of the hutki stock. Keep about half a cup of stock aside.
Add the lotha and stir and simmer for 20 minutes. You are almost there. Taste your salt and season more if needed. It is a bhuna (dry dish) so you probably will not need to add any plus hutki is naturally salty. At this point you can add katol bisi.
You will leave it to simmer for 10mins now, so put the lid on and let it simmer with the last half cup of hutki stock.
In a separate pan in some oil on high heat fry the prawns. This will give it a slight crispy texture. Prawns do not cook for long maybe 2mins max. Add this to the dish at the end and finish cooking this dish for 3-5 minutes more.
Finally the piece de resistance; add a dollop of Mr naga or fresh nagas. The smell and aroma is second to none! Enjoy after a few hours. p
I know it may sound bizarre but you have to let classic dishes like this mature. You must let the curry "bai" over night or a few hours. Enjoyed the best overnight.
When ready to eat enjoy with a lovely plateful of hot, white basmati rice and dont even dare grab water... just savour that delicious flavour 🙂