Bengali prawn curry

Jayanti Bhattacharyya demonstrates Chingrir Malai, a spiced prawn curry typical of her region of India
By Gary Rhodes
Bengali prawn curry
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes plus marinating
  • Effort: easy


  • 12 large prawns, shelled
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp ghee, (clarified butter)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 green cardamom, split
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole dried chillies
  • 2 small onions, grated
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 cm ginger, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp mild red chilli powder, preferably Kashmiri
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 100 ml coconut milk
  • 50 g freshly grated coconut
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • pinch garam masala


1. Tip the prawns into a mixing bowl and stir in half the turmeric and salt. Leave on one side for 10 minutes.

2. Heat the ghee is a pan until it just begins to brown, but don't let it become too dark. Set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a karahi or wok set over a medium heat. Add the prawns and fry for about 2 minutes until the colour changes but they are not cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside while you make the masala.

4. Add the browned ghee to the same oil, and when hot, toss in the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, and dried chillies. After about 1 minute, when you catch a lovely toasted aroma, add the grated onion, sugar and ginger. Fry over a gentle heat until the onions are golden.

5. Stir in the chilli powder, ground cumin and remaining tumeric - fry for another 30 seconds to cook the spices. Pour in the coconut milk and add the prawns. Simmer for 5 minutes, adding a little water if the sauce needs thinning. Stir in the grated coconut once the prawns are tender. Scatter over the chopped coriander, and sprinkle with garam masala if liked. This curry works really well with soft puris (fried Indian bread).

About Jayanti Bhattacharyya
Jayanti Bhattacharyyas Bengali cooking is renowned in Delhi and beyond. Famed for her traditional prawn curry, her culinary skills also extend to international cuisines. Jayanti works in Public Relations representing many worldwide firms.

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