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 :-)