Ceylon tea prawns with mulligatawny soup

Ceylon tea prawns with mulligatawny soup

My Feast
Chris Chen

This hot pepper soup is eaten all over Sri Lanka but is a particular favourite of the Tamil community in the north. Served with butterflied prawns, this dish is elegant and always impresses, yet it is so easy to prepare.


Quantity Ingredient
12 raw prawns, shelled and deveined, shells reserved to make the stock
12 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
vegetable oil, for brushing


Quantity Ingredient
1 sprig curry leaves
1 small green chilli
1 red bird’s eye chillies
2cm ginger, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 litres water

Mulligatawny soup

Quantity Ingredient
60ml vegetable oil
1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked
garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely diced
1 long red chilli
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, toasted
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, toasted
pinch saffron threads
2 carrots, finely diced
1 eggplant, finely diced
1 tomato, finely diced
1 onion, finely chopped
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 lime, juiced

Dipping sauce

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
garlic, chopped
1 dried red chilli, crushed
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ceylon tea leaves


  1. To make the stock, place the reserved prawn shells, the curry leaves, garlic, chilli, ginger, onion and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. To make the mulligatawny soup, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over high heat, add half of the curry leaves, garlic, onion, chilli and spices and cook until fragrant, stirring frequently making sure the spices don’t burn.
  3. Add the curry leaf mixture to the stock, increase the heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for a maximum of 20 minutes.
  4. In the same pan that you used to fry the spices, heat the remaining oil over medium heat, add the carrot, eggplant, tomato and onion and gently cook for 4–5 minutes. Add the remaining curry leaves and stir to combine.
  5. Strain the stock into the vegetable mixture, bring to the boil, then season with salt and pepper and add the lime juice. Remove from the heat and keep warm until serving.
  6. To make the dipping sauce, place the mayonnaise, garlic, dried chilli and parsley in a bowl and stir to combine.
  7. Place the tea in a small frying pan over high heat and lightly toast, being careful not to burn it. Remove from the heat and add a small amount to the mayonnaise mixture. Reserve the rest for garnishing.
  8. Place each prawn on its back and lightly score the belly two or three times so that it lies flat. Remove the small spike between the two tail fins. Thread each prawn onto a skewer, starting at the head and through the tail.
  9. Preheat a barbecue hotplate to high and lightly brush with oil. Cook the prawns until just translucent.
  10. Coat each prawn in the dipping sauce, scatter with the remaining toasted tea leaves and serve with a bowl of soup and some of the strained vegetables if desired.
My Sri Lanka
Island Feast
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