Chingri Maacher Malaikari is a signature dish from Bengal. Golda Chingri or jumbo prawns are cooked in a spiced creamy sauce made with thick coconut milk. I have grown up in this East Indian State (West Bengal), having to eat (and loving every bite and moment of it) this simply marvelous dish in every special occasions, be it be a birthday, or an evening with guests.
My dad would have to go to the Sunderbans for work, and we all waited until late night knowing that he would get the fresh and live jumbo prawns/shrimps. The prawns were left swimming around in an enormous pail of water, and as I entertained myself watching them, I also chuckled as I dreamed of the lunch the next day… the grandiose Chingri Maacher Malaikari.
It is usually served over hot steaming white rice or even with a light pulao. Now, there is no one 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. My maa did not have the convenience of canned cream of coconut, coconut milk or frozen coconut. Every thing was made fresh.
(Potatoes are not usually added to the traditional dish, but no harm adding them! I do sometimes!)
Here I am sharing with you the way my mom always cooked Chingri Maacher Malaikari.
Chingri Maacher Malaikari: Jumbo Prawns cooked in Spiced Coconut Cream
- 1 lb uncooked de-veined jumbo Prawn/Shrimp (may or may not peel them and may leave the head on for better flavor)
- 1.5 tablespoons of ginger paste
- 3 tablespoon finely chopped or grated onion (optional)
- 2 small green cardamoms
- 2” stick of cinnamon
- 1 Indian bay leaves/tejpatta
- 3/4 can coconut milk with some cream in it (the thick coconut milk)
- Salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of red chili powder/cayenne, or more or less to taste
- 3 hot green chili pepper. slit
- 3 tablespoons Ghee or pure virgin mustard oil (or any cooking oil, or a mix of both ghee and mustard oil/or any oil)
- 3 tablespoon of fresh/frozen shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup of peeled and cubed potatoes (optional)
Shell the prawns and toss with 3/4 spoon of turmeric, little bit of salt and half the amount of red chili powder. Let it sit for about 20 minutes.
In a pan/pot lightly cook the shrimp with the marinade and a couple of tablespoon of water until they just curl up and start to get white.
Heat the Ghee or the mustard oil. Add the cracked cardamoms, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Once they start sizzling, add the chopped onions if you are using and fry them until golden. Then add the green hot peppers, the potatoes (if using) and the ginger paste.
Reduce heat and fry for sometimes till the ghee leaves the sides of the pan, only a minute or two. Be careful and see that the paste does not burn and turn dark brown
Add sugar, salt, and the rest of the chili powder and turmeric, the coconut milk & the shredded coconut. Simmer this till the coconut milk start getting creamy. If you have added potatoes, they should be cooked through by this time. You will see little bubbles coming up. When the gravy coats the spoon you will know that its done.
Now add the prawn/jumbo shrimp and simmer for about five minutes. Overcooking will toughen the shrimps. Switch off the heat and keep covered until ready to serve.
Serve with white basmati rice.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 -30 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy
- Bhapa Shorshe Chingri: Steamed Prawns in Mustard, Poppy Seed Sauce
- Shrimp Curry with Nigella and Coriander
- Shrimp Curry with Pomegranate and Coconut Milk for Cemplang Cemplung
- Shrimp in a Fiery Coconut Sauce
- Shrimp Satay – Grilling with Almond Satay Sauce
- Shrimp Stew with Zucchini Tomato and Lentil
- Shrimp with Scallions and Garlic in Chile Tamari Sauce
- Tandoori Fish