The Easy Pleasy Prawns

              Being a Bengali kid, eating fish all by yourself seemed to be a tiring matter with all the time consuming efforts which goes into the deboning process (remember I was still learning this art), the fear of a tiny bone getting stuck unto your throat. At that point of life, PRAWNS came up to my rescue. I remember, when little, my brother and me, we used to fight over prawns so badly. Maa would distribute them equally between us but I (not satisfied with the distribution) would continuously eye the ones on his plate (being the first borne, naturally more beloved would get at least one bigger piece). He used to however lick them in front of me, look at me with cold eyes, keep them on his plate and save them for the end. Of course there is no way I am going to touch them again. MEAN.
              You will rarely find any Bengali who does not like eating prawns(although an Arthropod, but still considered as a fish by all Bengalis). Prawns very popular worldwide as a seafood has been a part of Bengali diet since long. Chingri Malaikari is one such authentic preparation which had been an integral part of the lunch menu in poila boisakh or noboborsho celebrations accompanied with some yellow pulao. A very close competition is Goan prawn curry (a much spicy variant) which too uses a coconut base. This Bengali variant is much milder and has been an all time favourite for us.
               Now you can use frozen prawns for this dish or can also buy fresh ones if readily available. You can leave the tail intact if you wish but they surely have to be deveined (by pulling out the black thread on its back). On a weekday night when you wonder what to make for dinner, this quick recipe seems to be an easy option which would drain away your midweek tiredness with very little preparations.
               However mostly, people use onion paste in this dish, but my mother used to bypass this step since I remember (majorly because my Bangal father i.e. East Bengalian doesn't quite like the taste of onion in fish preparations). I too comfortably let go of onion in this recipe (mostly because of the tears which comes into my mind thinking about onions) and it does turn out to be absolutely brilliant.

  • Prawns -250 gms (after removing the head and skin)
  • Turmeric powder - 2 teaspoons
  • Chilly powder - 1 teaspoon
  • Coconut milk - 1 cup
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Mustard oil - 1 teaspoon
  • Ghee - 2 teaspoon
  • Garam masala (Cardamom - 2-3, Cloves - 2-3, Bay leaves - 2, Cinnamon stick - 2 small sticks) 

Marinade the prawns with1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder and keep it aside for 10 minutes.

Heat some mustard oil in a kadhai and add the marinated prawns. Saute them for around 30 seconds but do not fry them like other fishes (excess heat tends to turn them rubbery). Take them out and let them rest.

In the same oil, add in the garam masala in low flame (beware of cloves and cardamom in hot oil. They splutter quite fiercely). Fry them around for 30 seconds.

In a bowl make a smooth paste of 2 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of chilli powder. Add this paste into the kadhai and keep on frying the mixture till oil seperates
Its time to add the coconut milk. Mix well and simmer the gravy in low flame for 20-25 minutes till you reach the preferred gravy consistency. Throw in the prawns. Adjust the seasonings i.e. the sugar and salt according to your taste. Cook it in medium flame for around 3 minutes more. Add the ghee and that's it.

Your malaikari is ready to be enjoyed.


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