Often cooked with Golda Chingri (jumbo prawn), this malaikari or malai curry can be cooked equally well with small or medium sized prawn as well. This is a royal and rich dish with coconut milk that plays the trick. This dish is creamy and flavorful and goes fantastically well with gorom bhat (steamed rice). The mild yet rich taste of this curry happened to be the hot favourite of Britishers as well. Since the spiciness is drastically mellowed down with coconut milk, this dish does not taste as hot and spicy as any other typical Bengali dish.
It is said that chingri mach (prawn or shrimp) is for Ghoti (origin of West Bengal) and Ilish or Hilsha is for Bangal (origin of East Bengal). But this is not true always. I, being a hardcore Bangal, is a die-heart fan of chingri mach. I love chingri mach in any form or on any day and every day. Though, words fall short when I describe my love for Ilish mach, but, I love chingri as well.
“Malai” actually means “cream”, but, this dish does not contain any cream rather than the creamy coconut milk. It is said that this dish has its origin in Malaysia and the term “malai” is actually “malay” of Malaysia. This is a traditional dish and often cooked in Bengali weddings and festivals. Though this curry can be prepared with any type of prawn, but, the most preferred are large and medium sized prawn. Pishimoni used to add grated coconut in this curry while Maa cooks it only with coconut milk. I like Maa‘s version more and thus, I always cook it the way Maa does. Also, I have seen Maa using posto bata (poppy seed paste) and thus, I follow the same.
Today, I made this amazing dish on my sister’s demand and as usual, she loved it. You can make this curry with or without gravy. Adjust the water accordingly. I like it with gravy and thus used a little more water while making it. With that said, here’s the recipe of Chingri Macher Malaikari for you all.
- 500 gm prawn (jumbo or medium)
- 1 cup (200 ml approx) coconut milk
- 3 table-spoon posto bata (poppy seed paste)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 6 green chillies, slitted from middle (adjust according to your tolerance)
- 1 tea-spoon ginger paste
- 1 tea-spoon garlic paste
- 1.5 tea-spoon turmeric powder (1 + 1/2)
- 1 tea-spoon coriander powder
- 1 tea-spoon cumin powder
- 1/2 tea-spoon red chilli powder (optional)
- 1/2 tea-spoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1/2 tea-spoon garam masala powder
- as required oil (any oil) to fry the prawns
- 3 table-spoon mustard oil
- 1 table-spoon ghee
- 1.5 cup warm water
- salt, according to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick (1 inch)
- 4 cardamom, crushed
- 4 cloves
- 1 javitri
- Cut the prawns keeping the head and tail intact. However, the choice is all yours. If you want you can discard these parts.
- Wash and rub the prawns with 1 tea-spoon turmeric powder and little salt. Marinate for 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a pan and fry the prawns until they turn golden yellow. Remove and keep aside.
- Now, heat mustard oil and ghee together in a pan and temper with the ingredients mentioned in For Tempering section. Allow them to splutter.
- Add chopped onion and sautè until it turns golden brown. (Tips: while sauteing the onion, add few pinches of salt or sugar to make it brown fast).
- Now, add ginger-garlic paste, 1/2 tea-spoon turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder and required salt. Sprinkle a little water and stir for 3 minutes on low flame or until you stop getting the raw smell of the spices.
- Add posto bata and mix well.
- Add warm water and cover the lid. On a medium flame, bring it to a boil.
- Now, add the fried prawns and give a quick stir.
- Add coconut milk and again, mix well. Cover the lid and lower the flame. On a low to medium flame, cook for 10-15 minutes or until the prawns are done properly. Do not overcook the prawns.
- Open the lid and sprinkle garam masala powder. Turn off the flame.
- Your Chingri Macher Malaikari is ready to be served now.
If you wish you can garnish it with 1 table-spoon fresh coconut milk just before serving. Serve this dish with piping hot rice. I have seen people eating this with roti/chapatti, though, I don’t recommend it. This goes best only with gorom bhat.
Enjoy this authentic Bengali delicacy and do drop me a comment giving your feedback about this recipe. You can also tag me on Instagram using the handle @when_a_bong_cooks.