Delectable, scrumptiousand rich in flavour, “chingri malaikari” or giant tiger prawns cooked in creamy coconut-milk curry—is a Bengali treat. “Chingri Malaikari” is the quintessential Bengali recipe. It is made by cooking large tiger prawns (bagda chingri) or giant freshwater prawns (golda chingri) in a super-subtle and super-creamy coconut-milk sauce. It’s quick recipe to make. The name of this velvety Prawn Malai Curry recipe bears somewhat of a double meaning. ‘Malai’ meaning ‘cream’ is actually the coconut-milk base in which the prawns are cooked. However, this prawn recipe seems to have made its way into Bengali kitchens through contact with Malaysian traders; so ‘malaikari’ is actually ‘Malay’ curry, over time transliterated as ‘malai’ curry.
With this step by step recipe at your disposal, there is no reason why you should hop over to your nearest Bengali Restaurants to satiate your “Chingri Malaikari” cravings!
1 kg giant tiger or freshwater prawns
50 gm vegetable oil
10 gm ghee
200 gm onion paste
20 gm ginger paste
4 gm turmeric
1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
75 gm yoghurt
6 pcs green chillies
300 gm coconut milk (first-press)
200 gm coconut milk (second-press)
24 gm salt
36 gm brown sugar
½ tsp Bengali garam masala
Remove the shell and devein the prawns, leaving the head intact. If you want, you may remove the stomach of the prawn. I prefer to leave the shells on, but you may peel them off if you like.
Season prawns with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp turmeric powder, and set aside.
In a grinder jar, add onions and blend them to a fine paste. Also extract coconut milk, reserving the first-press (thick) and second-press (thinner) milk in separate jars, and keep it ready.
Heat vegetable oil in a pan. Once hot, lower the prawns one by one and fry them in batches for about 30 seconds on each side. Don’t overcook the prawns; they will become tougher and chewy. Remove them from the heat straight away, and set aside.
Now add ghee to the residual oil. Temper with driedbay leaf, red chillies, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon.
Add onion paste along with brown sugar, and fry until the onions are brown.
Add ginger paste and fry for another 5–6 minutes, after which add turmeric and Kashmiri red chilli powder. Keep stirring, so that the spices don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. To prevent it from getting burned, add a splash of the thin, second-press coconut milk to loosen the mixture up and help fry it. Also, add salt and three slit green chillies now.
Once the oil starts asunder from the spices, whisk the yoghurt until it is lump free and add it to the pan. Simmer the heat and stir vigorously to prevent the yoghurt from splitting. Cook it for 4-5 minutes.
Add the second-press (thin) coconut milk and drop the heat for about 2 minutes before adding the first-press (thick) coconut milk. Add the fried prawns once it comes to a boil.
Allow the prawns to bubble in the curry, covered, for no more than 6-7 minutes.
Finish off with garam masala before serving with steamed rice.