Prawn Koliwada: The Maharashtrian Dish With A Tangled Origin
Image Credit: iStock, Prawn Koliwada

What’s the first thing to cross your mind when you read the word ‘Maharashtrian dish’? A delectable amalgam of flavours, textures and aroma? Delicacies that are simple yet irresistibly delicious? Maharashtrian cuisine has managed to keep a majority of the population hooked to its drool-worthy culinary heritage. From the scrumptious Pav Bhaji to the aromatic and indulgent fish Kolhapuri, authentic Maharashtrian dishes are an exciting play of Desi Masalas that bring out the best in every ingredient. But do you know that some popular Maharashtrian dishes haven’t originated in the state? Yet, despite the factor mentioned earlier, these dishes possess the authentic flavours of Maharashtra. One such dish is Prawn Koliwada which is popularly known as one of Maharashtra’s favourite prawn dishes. Popularly savoured in most bars and Malwani restaurants, Prawn Koliwada is a decadent appetizer that deep-frying marinated prawns make. 

Although Mumbaikars fondly relish prawn Koliwada, it is believed that its origin doesn’t lie in the state. Locals thought that Prawn Koliwada originated from Sion. The Punjabis who migrated to Maharashtra during the partition brought this dish with them. The dish is called ‘Koliwada’ because the migrants settled in the same area as the Kolis. It is believed that the dish was first served at Hazara, a restaurant and bar in Sion. The founder of Hazara, Hukamchand Singh Julka, started serving the dish in the year 1955. The dish served at the restaurant is relatively less pungent than other restaurants. The ingredients are a family secret, but many believe that the restaurant uses authentic spices quite common in Hazara- the town from where the restaurant's founder had migrated. 

Batter-frying marinated prawns make the dish. The prawns are first washed and deveined and are marinated with ginger-garlic paste, coriander powder, lemon juice, salt and chilli powder. These marinated prawns are then dipped in a batter of maida, besan, yoghurt and red chilli powder and deep-fried until golden and crispy. 

Prawn Koliwada has kept Maharashtrians hooked to it for ages. You can savour these crispy delights with your favourite booze and serve them as appetizers at your next house party. Here’s a detailed recipe you can follow to make Prawn Koliwada at home.