Bengali food resonates with me on a deeper level even though I’m a pucca Southie. Maybe it’s the rice that bonds us (Bengali’s also eat rice with every meal!), or maybe my love for rosogullas and rasamalai’s have sweetened me towards them, or maybe it’s the fact that half the employees in my ex-company were Bengali! For whatever reason, I love Bengali food.
The one thing that I always order in a Bengali restaurant (apart from their gorgeous desserts) is Chingri Malai Curry. Chingri means Prawns and Coconut is used as the base in this curry to give it the quintessential creaminess. This is the mecca of what a curry should taste like for me – Rich, spicy-sweet and comforting. There is this little Bengali restaurant in Indiranagar that serves this curry in a Tender Coconut with the tail of the Prawn sticking out. Just seeing it makes my heat beat faster! The curry also has pieces of tender coconut in it that I love nibbling on. Though I don’t think that’s really the authentic way – but when it’s that yummy who cares right?
I found this recipe on Hamaree Rasoi. And I know Deepashri Deb can only turn out an authentic curry – being Bengali and all… 😉 I increased the amount of coconut milk and added a chilli for a bit of heat. Also please use fresh pressed coconut milk. The Dabur Homemade one just dosen’t cut it here. The flavor with fresh pressed coconut milk elevates this dish to the status it truly deserves. So here’s some Chingri Malai Curry for you. Eat it with some hot fluffy rice to find yourself floating in food heaven!
Chingri Malai Curry
(Recipe adapted from Hamaree Rasoi)
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 35 mins
What you need:
500 gms Prawns, de-veined (medium to large, leave their tails on for more drama)
2 Onions, ground to a paste
1 Green Chilli, slit
400 ml Coconut Milk (Thick and thin Press)
1 ½ Tbsp Garlic Paste
1 Tbsp julienned Ginger
2 Bay Leaves
1 inch stick of Cinnamon
1 tsp Chilli Powder (use the Lal Mirch for extra colour and less heat)
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Dhaniya Powder (Coriander Powder)
A Pinch of Sugar
2 Tbsp Ghee
3 Tbsp Mustard Oil/ vegetable Oil
¾ cup Water
For the Marinade:
½ tsp Lemon Juice
A pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
What to do:
Soak the whole spices in 2 tbsp of water and keep aside. (this is to ensure they don’t burn in the oil).
Grind the onions to a paste and set aside. This is step one, because the water will start to release from the onions which you need to discard. Squeeze the onion paste to release any residual water and set aside.
Wash the prawns and marinate them for 15 mins with the lemon juice, turmeric and salt. Heat the Ghee in the pan and fry the prawns for a quick 10 seconds just to get some colour on them. (Do not fry them for long as it will turn rubbery. We are going to finish cooking them later in the curry). Keep them aside.
Now add the mustard oil to the ghee and wait till it gets hot. Add in the whole spices (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves) and saute. Now add the garlic paste and the ginger and fry for a couple of mins till the garlic starts turning brown. Add the slit green chilli and the semi dry onion paste and give it a good stir. Cover with a lid for one minute. The onion paste will start to brown. Now keep an eye on it and keep stirring vigourously. If it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan add in a Tbsp of water. Continue this process till the onions are nice and rich brown but not burnt.
Now add in the coriander powder, turmeric, chilli powder, salt and sugar and sauté well. Cook this mixture till the oil starts to separate from it/ rises to the top. (5-7 mins)
Add in ¾ cup of water here and reduce the flame. Add in the thin press coconut milk first. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce then reduce to a simmer. Add Prawns now and cover and cook for another 3-4 mins. Now add the thick press coconut milk. Stir and just heat through.
Garnish it with a wedge of lemon and some coriander leaves. Of course hot steamed rice is the best accompaniment.