When in Goa a few years ago I fell in love with the grilled seafood on the beaches. Fresh fish, lobster and prawns were slathered with a chilli vinegar paste, barbecued and served with juicy limes. I was curious to find out the origin, as it didn’t taste typically Indian. I later gleaned it was a legacy from the Portuguese, who occupied Goa for almost 400 years. It’s a special paste called recheio masala that uses dried spices, chillies, garlic and vinegar and is used for marinades or as a curry base.
To make the recheio masala, remove the stems and seeds from the chillies. Put them in a heatproof bowl and cover with the boiling water. Stand for 10 minutes, then transfer the chillies and water to a blender with all of the remaining ingredients and a good teaspoon of salt. Purée until smooth and set aside.
Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut through the shell down the back of the unpeeled prawns and remove the vein. The shell will protect the prawns during cooking and the cut makes it easier for guests to pull the shells off. Spread a bit of the recheio masala on all of the seafood including the fish but not the prawn shells. Brush the shells with oil so they don’t stick to the barbecue. If you like, you can thread the prawns onto metal skewers or wooden ones that have been soaked in water for 15 minutes to prevent them from burning during cooking.
Heat a barbecue, chargrill pan or grill (broiler) to high. Grill the seafood for 5 minutes or until the flesh is cooked. Bigger pieces may take longer. Serve with the lime wedges, coriander sprigs, chopped pineapple and the chutney.
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