Crispy Prawn Koliwada

Punjabi food is possibly one of the most universally favoured cuisines and I bet you didn't even realise it. Their wood fired ovens gave birth to tandoori chicken and without them, samosas would not be the deep fried, triangular symbols of South Asian hospitality they are today. Any person that thinks to make vegetables more attractive by adding ghee, sugar and full fat milk will always get my vote! There's no denying that if you want to feel like an absolute glutton, this region of India knows how to do it best. 

Today's recipe is one that is super simple and yet rarely appears on takeaway menus: prawn koliwada, named after colonies of fishermen. The story goes that it was created in Mumbai by a North Indian immigrant. Think of deep fried prawn tempura, only a little more doughy and a lot more spicy. We owe the thick batter to gram (chickpea) flour. Whenever I've had friends around, prawn koliwada is always the first thing to disappear off the table!

Servings: enough for 7 people
Prep+cooking time: 30 mins


  • 300g (approximately 30+) cooked and peeled king prawns
  • 1/4 cup besan/gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste (I usually just peel both in bulk, blend the two together and store in a refrigerated container since they form the base for most curries)
  • 1 tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander or 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, plus dry roasted chilli flakes if you like extra heat
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil, for frying

1) Wash the cooked and peeled prawns and drain the excess water.

2) Marinate the prawns by adding all the ingredients apart from the flour and water and leave aside for 15 to 20 minutes. 

3) Prepare the oil for deep frying, making sure the temperature on medium-high. Add the besan and plain flour and pour a little water at a time to create a batter. The thicker the batter, the more doughy the prawns will be when they are fried. 

4) Add on prawn to check that the oil is hot enough. Add the battered prawns in small batches and fry them until they turn golden brown on both sides. 

5) Place the fried prawn koliwada on durable kitchen towel to soak excess oil before serving with wedges of lime and extra chilli flakes if preferred.