The besan flour (chickpea flour) coating gives these prawns a
crisp nuttiness; it's available from health-food shops and Indian
2 tbspolive oil2Spanish onions, cut into thick wedges1½baby fennel bulbs, cut into thick wedges¼ tspsaffron, soaked in 2 tbsp hot water for 30 minutes1 tbspred wine vinegar1 tsp honey380 gmvine-ripened tomatoes (about 4), quartered1 tbsp currantsFor deep-frying:vegetable oil200 gm besan flour1 tbspeach cumin seeds and coriander seeds1 kguncooked prawns, peeled, tails intact, deveined1 cup(loosely packed) each coriander and flat-leaf parsley leaves, to serve
Heat olive oil in a deep-sided frying pan over medium heat, add onion and turn occasionally until just beginning to soften (8-10 minutes). Add fennel and turn occasionally until golden brown (7-8 minutes), then add saffron and soaking water, vinegar and honey, gently place in tomatoes and scatter with currants. Cover with lid, reduce heat to low and simmer until fennel is tender (15-20 minutes).
Meanwhile, preheat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 180C. Combine besan flour and spices in a bowl and season to taste. Dust prawns in flour mixture, shake to remove excess and deep-fry in batches until golden (1-2 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit). Drain on absorbent paper, season to taste and keep warm.
To serve, spoon saffron-braised vegetables into serving bowls, scatter with herbs and top with fried prawns.