Chingri malai curry is the darling of Ghotis or Bengalis from West Bengal. I am a Bangal. From the other side of Bengal. Yet I love chingri malai curry. As do my Parsi in laws. In essence chingri malai curry means prawns (chingri) cooked in coconut milk (malai).
I had a gang of friends coming over on Sunday. I planned to keep it simple. Kosha mangsho. And prawn curry with the prawns that, who else, K’s vegetarian (!) Mama (maternal uncle) got us.
So here’s the recipe. We made it with tons of prawns but I will scale it down. I will skip the potatoes which frankly don’t go with malai curry.
Take 500 g of shelled and deveined prawns. Keep the heads of the prawns on for the ultimate Bengali experience. Chewing the head of prawns and sucking out the brains is a Bengali w%$ dream.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non stick pan. Once hot add a teaspoon of whole shada jeera (cummin). Let it pop and splutter. Add two dry red chillies, 2 bay leaves, a one inch stick of cinnamon and 3 or 4 elaich or green cardamoms. Let these splutter.
Add the paste of one onion. Let it cook till the onion loses its translucence and begins to brown. Add a teaspoon of ginger paste.
Once this browns add the pulp of 3 tomatoes or tomato puree. NOTE: traditional malai curry recipes doesn’t involve tomatoes.
Add the masala. A teaspoon each of salt, black pepper powder, red chilly powder, sugar, half a teaspoon each of turmeric powder and garam masala powder and two teaspoons of cummin or jeera powder. You can mix the masalas in a tablespoon of water and then add this mix to the gravy base.
Let this cook till the masala integrates into the gravy mix and doesn’t look raw.
Add half a cup of water and 200 ml of coconut milk and let the mixture come to a boil.
Add the fried prawns. Reduced the flame. Let the sauce cook for three minutes. Turn off the flame. Cover the pan with a lid and let the dish stew in its juices for 5 minutes.
Garnish with a touch of garam masala powder and split green chillies.
Have it with steamed rice.
So that’s my chingri malai curry recipe. Not authentic. Likely to make people call for a Bangla Bandh and go marching to the Brigade Parade ground in Calcutta.
But tasty as hell.