Toast the cumin seeds with the peppercorns till fragrant. Remove and crush in a mortar and pestle. Combine with the cayenne, mixed herbs and salt and rub all over the prawns. Set aside for 5 minutes.
Heat up 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan till hot. Place the prawns in the pan in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches). As soon as the prawns turn pink on one side – a minute/two, turn over and allow to cook on the other side. Once that side turns pink, remove and set aside in a bowl. Repeat greasing of pan and frying of prawns till all are done.
Let the prawns cool down then remove the shells – do not discard the shells but set aside,separating flesh from shells.
In a large pan, fry the chopped onions on medium to low heat till just caramelized. Add the shrimp shells to the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously. Then add 3 cups of water, the chopped tomatoes and sliced garlic. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring now and again.
Put the prawn shells – onion mixture into a food processor and blitz till the shells are chopped up. Then add the yellow bonnet – adding small pieces and tasting, till the right heat level is achieved. Pass the pureed mixture through a sieve twice – discard the gritty shell bits and reserving the smooth puree
Make a roux on medium – low heat in the pan by combining the butter and flour. Allow to cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes. The remove the pan off the heat for a minute while you add the fine shrimp puree/liquid back to the pan, slowly stirring till thickened - if too thick, thin with some water. Allow to heat up gently. Once gently bubbling, add the cooked, shelled prawns – stir well to combine and let just heat up for a minute or two till warm all over
Add the cream (at the last minute, and if using) and serve with freshly boiled white rice and some chopped chives/coriander to top.
For the first 9 years of my life I hated food and really loved sugar till Wimpy (British Fast Food chain) changed my life! These days, all grown up, I've junked junk food and spend my days and nights on a quest - to find and share the sweet, sweet nectar that's food in The #NewNigerianKitchen!
Dreaming, cooking, eating and writing...about and adoring a strong food community that's big and bold enough to embrace the world's diverse cuisines - I'm passionate about celebrating Nigerian cuisine in its entirety.
Why do I love food so? It is forgiving. Make a recipe. Have it go bad....but wake up tomorrow and you can have another go at succeeding! Only with food!