Chingri Macher Malaicurry / Malaikari (Prawn Curry with Coconut Milk)

We Bengalis are known as great food lovers. Whether it’s a festival, durga puja, marriage, birthday celebration or East Bengal-Mohanbagan football match, we just need a reason to celebrate and the celebrations include delicious cuisines. Bengali recipes are an all time favourite for its spicy, aromatic and mouthwatering flavours for veg & non veg both.

‘Chingri Macher Malaikar’i or Prawn Malaikari is a classical preparation with Prawns and flavoured with coconut milk based gravy. We Bongs are so much food lover that we adopt other cuisine across globe according to our taste bud and change the name accordingly. ‘Chingri Macher Malaikari’ is one of the greatest examples of this name changing game where ‘Malaikari’ is actually ‘Maloy Curry’ – a prawn curry flavoured with coconut milk originally from Malaysia is modified into a signature Bengali cuisine known as ‘Chingri Macher Malaikari’.

‘Chingri Macher Malaikari’, is a very famous and popular Bengali preparation served with steamed rice or Basanti Pulao or any Pulao for lunch or dinner on special occasions. This is an elegant Bengali classic recipe. Most people think that coconut or coconut milk is not a popular ingredient in Bengali cooking, but it is in many of the special Bengali cuisines like ‘Chapor Ghonto’, Dudh Lau’, ‘Niramish Mochar Ghonto’, ‘Kumror Chokka’, ‘Narkol Bora’ etc.  This particular dish is cooked in spiced up gravy with coconut milk.

It is usually served over hot steaming white rice or even with a light pulao. Now, there is no particular recipe for the perfect ‘Malaikari’. Every home has their own recipe with slight variation, but the fact that the traditional recipe uses freshly made coconut milk and grated coconut remains universal. Here is the recipe which I have imbibed from my Maa though I have used store bought coconut milk.

Ingredients to serve 5

  • Jumbo Prawn/ Galda Chingri – 8-10 (medium sized shrimp can also be used)
  • Whole Cinnamon – 2”
  • Green Cardamom – 4
  • Clove – 3-4
  • Bay Leave – 2
  • Green Chilli – 4 (Slitted)
  • Coconut Milk – 1.5 Cup
  • Onion Paste – 4 Tbsp
  • Tomato Paste – 3 Tbsp
  • Ginger Paste – 1 tsp
  • Garlic Paste – 1.5 tsp
  • Garam Masala Powder – ½ tsp
  • Cumin Powder – ½ tsp
  • Turmeric Powder – 2 tsp
  • Red Chilli Powder – ½ tsp
  • Mustard Oil – 4-6 Tbsp
  • Ghee or Clarified Butter – 1 Tbsp
  • Fresh Cream – 2 Tbsp (Optional)
  • Lemon Juice – 2 tsp
  • Sugar – 2 tsp
  • Salt – According to taste
  1. It is ideal to use Prawns with shell to prepare Chingri Macher Malaicurry. However, in absence of shelled Prawn frozen and de-shelled Prawns can also be used.
  2. Wash Prawns thoroughly and devein each and every prawn before cooking.
  3. Now rub some lemon juice, salt and turmeric powder to the Prawns and leave those for 15 minutes.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep vessel or kadai and fry Prawns 2-3 at a time (As per photograph) without tempering the shell in medium flame until the Prawns turn pink in colour (As per photograph).
  5. After straining the Prawns from the hot oil add ghee in the oil.
  6. Temper the ghee-oil mixture with the whole spices which are cinnamon, green chilli, green cardamom, clove and bay leave.
  7. Now add onion paste to the tempering and cook for around 3-4 minutes or till the paste cooked properly and turned pinkish brown in colour.
  8. Add tomato paste and again cook for 1 minute.
  9. Add ginger and garlic paste and cook for 2 minutes.
  10. Now add sugar, salt, red chilli powder, cumin powder, and half of the garam masala powder to the mixture and cook for 3-4 minutes in low flame until oil separates from the mixture. If required add 1-2 tsp. of water in between.
  11. Now add coconut milk to the mixture and mix properly and then add 1 cup of water and bring it to boil.
  12. Finally add fried prawns to the gravy and cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5-6 minutes in low flame till the gravy thicken to a medium consistency.
  13. Add remaining garam masala and fresh cream to Chingri Macher Malaicurry and mix properly and give the dish a rest with the lid on for 5 minutes before serving.

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