Nellore Royyala Iguru: This Fiery Shrimp Recipe From Andhra Pradesh Is Loaded With Incredible Flavours

I have had many fabulous meals at Dakshin that has grown into one of India’s best known premium restaurant brands that serves authentic Southern Indian cuisine. One of my favourite dishes at this restaurant is the Royyala Iguru, a dish from coastal Andhra Pradesh cooked with shrimps and packed with incredible flavours that almost pop in your mouth. I still remember chatting with Chef Harish Rao (see recipe) who helmed the restaurant when I first tried this dish at Dakshin a few years ago; a conversation we revisited as I decided to dig deeper into one of my favourite dishes from Andhra Pradesh. This conversation eventually led to Nellore, just 170 km from Chennai.

Dakshin wasn’t the first spot where I sampled the fiery Royyala Iguru, it was at my friend’s home in Chennai. Padmaja Reddy’s family is rooted in Nellore and their family recipe (see recipe) of Royyala Iguru is certainly one of the most delicious versions I have ever tried. Nellore, located just north of Chennai, is a commercial hub and surrounded by numerous beaches like the Mypadu and Koduru Beach. The region’s unique location has also made it one of India’s aquaculture hubs with a booming shrimp culturing industry. ‘Royalla’ translates to prawns in Telugu, while ‘Iguru’ refers to a thick paste type of gravy; this dish has now become strongly associated with Nellore. Locals will tell you that restaurants like Amaravati and Murali Krishna 70 are the best places in Nellore to try this dish. These same locals will tell you that the best version of the Nellore Royalla Iguru is served at homes in and around the district. I couldn’t agree more.

While quite a few Andhra dishes might conform to the fiery stereotypes associated with cuisine from the state, most dishes depend on the cooking method for their flavours. The iguru is a thick gravy or what many order takers at restaurants across India would call a ‘semi gravy’. Prawns or Royalla is simmered or cooked on a low flame in the gravy and the moisture is evaporated to get a great tasting thick curry. This dish gets its flavours and textures from the slow-cooking style. Padmaja Reddy’s tip is to cook this dish with a lot of patience and on low heat at every step. While this dish tastes best with steaming hot rice, you can also try it with chapatis.

Also Read: 

Home-Style Nellore Royyala Iguru

Recipe Courtesy – Padmaja Reddy

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

Prawns medium size – 1 kg, cleaned and deveined

Onions – 4, chopped small

Tomatoes – 2, cubed

Ginger and garlic paste – 3 tbsp

Cinnamon – 1 small stick

Cloves – 3

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder – 2 tsp

Chilli powder 1-2 tbsp(according to spice preference)

Curry leaves – few springs

Salt

Chopped coriander leaves

Oil – 4 tbsp

Method

  • Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add cinnamon stick and cloves. Then add curry leaves and then onions and fry in low heat until soft and light brown.
  • Next, add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for some time. Add tomatoes and cook till it looks mushy.
  • Add the masala powders and cook for a min. Add prawns and cook on low heat till the prawns are cooked well.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • It’s a good idea to boil the prawns for a minute before adding it to the onion tomato mixture. You can add a teaspoon of garam masala for extra flavour or omit the tomatoes for a dry consistency.

Nellore Royyala Iguru

Recipe Courtesy: Harish Rao – Chef and culinary consultant

(Serves 4)

Chef Harish Rao’s recipe features some interesting tweaks to the above recipe; the use of cashew paste adds a nice texture to this version:

Ingredients:

Prawns medium size – 1 kg, cleaned and deveined

Onions – 4, sliced

Tomatoes – 2, cubed

Ginger – 2 tbsp, chopped finely

Garlic – 5-6 cloves, minced

Yogurt -50 gm

Cashew nut paste – 100 gm

For the masala:

Cinnamon – 2 pieces

Cardamom – 3

Cloves – 2

Star anise – 3

Dried red chillies – 6

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Fennel seeds – 1 tsp

Powdered coriander seeds – 2 tsp

For tempering and garnishing:

Curry leaves – 2 sprigs

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Chopped coriander leaves

Oil – 4 tbsp

Method:

  • Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and temper the mustard seeds. Then add the onions and curry leaves and fry till the onions turn a dark golden brown.
  • Next, add the ginger and garlic and fry for some time before adding the ground masala. This masala needs to be cooked for about 2 minutes. Add some oil at this stage if the masala looks too dry.
  • Add the tomatoes, yoghurt and the cashew nut paste, stir well. Cook over a low flame for few minutes, then add the prawns.
  • Let the prawns cook for few minutes; cook with the cover open till its dry.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Give this dish a try and let us know which version you liked the most in the comments section below.

About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie – a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.



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