Thursday, December 28, 2006

Prawn Malai Curry

Chingri Macher Malai Curry is a classic Bengali dish and is my husband's all-time favorite dish with jhinge posto being a close second. (I wish my food list was that simple. I would have trouble listing even my top 20 food items if asked!) Last weekend we were having some friends over for dinner and my husband suggested I make this as one of the items for our guests. Heck - he even offered to de-shell all the prawns for the party, so how could I refuse?

I also wanted to participate in the JFI - Coconut hosted by Ashwini on her blog "Food For Thought" and this dish is made with coconut milk. Eventually for the dinner party I made 2 other dishes using coconut but selected this for the JFI event. Maybe if I have time complete the other write-ups in time, I'll ask Ashwini if I can submit more than one entry :-)

I am sure most Bengali families have their versions of malai curry, with a few tweaks here and there…… and here's mine.

2 pounds prawns/shrimp.
1 can coconut milk (can make this at home but I used store bought)
1 medium onion chopped fine
1 medium-large tomato chopped fine
1 and 1/2 inch ginger
2 tsp garlic paste
1-2 tsp turmeric (or as needed)
1 green chilly or 1 tsp red chilly powder (or adjust to your own taste)
whole garam masala (4/5 green cardamom, 7/8 cloves, 1 inch stick of cinnamon)
1 tsp garam masala powder
~ 2 tsp sugar
Salt and oil - to taste

Heat oil and fry the whole garam masala pieces for a 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic and onion and fry till onions are slightly brown.
Add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric, salt and ginger and fry till the oil separates from the masala.
Add the prawns and fry them till the grey color just turns to red/orange. Don't over-fry them beyond this point as they tend to get a little hard on over-cooking.
My MIL fries the prawns separately with salt and turmeric and adds them to masala paste at this point, but I prefer to add them to the masala and fry. I feel the prawns get a bit leathery of pre-frying them, but this is really a matter of personal taste.
Add the coconut milk a little water and cover and let it come to a boil.
Throw in the tsp of garam masala powder and mix well. Then cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or the prawns are completely cooked.
I usually taste the gravy at this point and sometimes need to add a little more sugar or chilly powder. The taste should have a slight tinge of sweetness to balance the other masala but not be too sweet.

As I complete this write up, I realize one thing…. it is hard to give exact measurements of ingredients for dishes even if we make them regularly. The reason I acknowledge this here is all my life I have complained about my Ma, mashi's and pishi's all of whom are excellent cooks. Whenever I ask them for recipes, they list all the ingredients but when asked how much they just say "andaaje" (Means by approximation or use your judgment) and I would complain that if I had a judgement on these things, I wouldn’t be asking them for recipes. But as I do my own write-ups and start to list recipes which I hope someday my daughter can use I am very tempted to say "andaaje" for a bunch of things (specifically the sugar and garam masala powder above)… and the cycle of life continues :-)

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Blogger RP said...

Great recipes!
Nice presentation!
Loved it. :)

December 28, 2006 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Lovely entry Snigdha. My best friend is Bengali and I have had prawn malai curry at her home quite a few times. Thanks for participating in JFI.
PS - could you please send me a 75px size of the snap so I can include it in the round up? Cheers

December 28, 2006 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger SJ said...

Hi RP and Ashwini, Welcome to my blog!

RP, thanks!

Ashwini, will do so by email.

January 3, 2007 at 10:52 PM  
Anonymous slowfood said...

Thanks for the recipe.

I have a few comments, if I may, about Chingrir malaikari. Although I am a kaait bangaal.

I differ on 3 counts than the one published here mainly based on the use of ingredients and cooking process.

1. I do not use onion.

2. I do not fry the prawns separately, but slow cook the entire thing in a skillet, or just steam those wrapped in banana leaves.

3. I do not add sugar. Absolutely.

My rationale for each below:

1. Onions overwhelm and eventually destroy the nutty flavor of coconut (in any form). I cannot think of any Bengali recipe that allows both together. The Mughalai recipe that allows both is korma.

2. Prawns (when marinaded--I do that) absorb most of the coconut and spices, and when cooked retain their softness along with the flavor. Then, I am a minimalist frier. So you may ignore this.

3. Coconut has plenty of sweetness.

I would love to hear what you think.


January 9, 2008 at 1:58 AM  
Anonymous slowfood said...

And more differences, actually.
no tomatoes, garam masala or garlic.

The combination of coconut and mustard seeds are too powerful to need any form of condimental assistance or other assistance from any of these folks. Sorry to be finicky.

January 9, 2008 at 2:09 AM  
Blogger SJ said...

Hi slowfood,

I would love to see your version of the recipe posted spmewhere. This is how I make it - while I do not claim it is the ONLY way to make malai curry, it is certainly the way it is ,made in my home.

Of course did you read my recipe at all since your comments do not seem relevant to my version??? I ask since I have not used mustard seeds and have specifically mentioned that i do not fry the prawns separately.

January 24, 2008 at 7:19 PM  
OpenID bengalicuisine said...

Hi SJ,
your blog is good and particularly those photographs they are awesome.
Catch me cooking at :

August 11, 2008 at 1:10 AM  
OpenID amritac said... I miss home!!
Your prawn curry looks absolutely delish! And its making me nostalgic...and making me wish I had more time to actually cook it someday in my tiny kitchen!

November 27, 2008 at 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother's bengali and I die for her cooking when she isn't visiting us. I followed your recipe and it was absolutely delightful!

February 3, 2009 at 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

stumbled upon ur recipe...great going to try it...yes most bengali preparations do not require onion or garlic...the coconut oil and whole garam masala will give enough flavour...

March 23, 2009 at 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tried this today. Was fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

February 20, 2011 at 1:25 AM  
Blogger Leanne said...

This has become my husband's favorite curry now. While searching for the link from where I first got it, so I could share it with a friend, I came across your blog. There are a few differences, but I'm certain the outcome would be the same.

October 12, 2011 at 5:31 AM  
Blogger Sanjay Pandey said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe with us. I followed it and stirred up a culinary storm that swept away my friends, literally. Thanks again!

April 8, 2012 at 1:50 AM  

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