Monday, September 24, 2012

Chingri macher malaikari...a signature Bengali dish

Chingri macher malaikari...prawn in creamy coconut gravy is always close to every Bengali's heart. If you are talking about a typical Bong spread then malaikari is a must on that.

There is a big debate  though about the origin of this dish. Some say it derives the name from the creamy coconut gravy, malai means cream, hence called malaikari or malaicurry. The other opinion is, it has originated in the land of Malay...
But frankly, I do not want to scratch my head pondering about the origin of the dish, whatever may be the origin, the dish is always a show stopper and my all time favorite. And my 5yr old too agrees with me. I have seen my grandma and my mother to cook this dish several times. And I also follow the same.

This is my entry to BWW#89 of Black and White Wednesday- a culinary photography event created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, now managed by Cinzia of Cindystar, and hosted by Lynne Daley of Cafe Lynnylu.

Back to the Malaikari Recipe, it's here...

Things needed to make Chingri Malaikari:

  • Large prawns: 6
  • Onion(grated): 2tbsp
  • Garlic paste: 1/2tsp
  • Ginger paste: 1tbsp
  • Cinnamon: 2-3(1inch stick)
  • Cardamom(crushed): 3-4
  • Cloves: 4-5
  • Bay leaf: 1-2
  • Dry red chili: 2-3
  • Shah jeera/black cumin: 1/2tsp
  • Turmeric powder:1tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1/2tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1/2tsp
  • Garam masala powder:1/4tsp
  • Thick coconut milk: 1cup
  • Ghee/clarified butter: 1tsp
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste

The steps of making Chingri Malaikari:

1. Wash, clean and devein the prawns. Peel the prawns but keep the shell on head and on tail. Smear salt and turmeric powder on prawns and keep aside for 20-30min.

2. In a pan or kadai add oil, any vegetable oil is good. When the oil is hot add the prawns. Cook for 2-3min on high heat or as they change color to red. Do not overcook the prawns, or they will turn chewy and hard. Keep the fried prawns aside.

3. In the same pan or kadai add some more oil. do not discard the oil from fried prawns. As the oil heats up, add bay leaf, whole garam masala(cinnamon, cardamom, cloves), shah jeera/black cumin, dry red chilies. Cook till the spices release nice aroma, add the garlic paste and cook for 1min. Sometimes I have seen my mother add slices of garlic to the oil, and cook the garlic till red, then she discards the garlic slices from the oil. This way the garlic does not dominate the curry but leaves a mild aroma. I do both way, even sometimes without garlic. It is entirely on your choice which one you prefer.

4. As the garlic is done, add the onion paste. Cook on medium heat for 3min.Add the ginger paste and mix well. Cook for 2-3min on medium flame. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and cumin powder, mix well. Cook for 2min then add the coconut milk. I used canned coconut milk, those are readily available in any grocery stores. If you like you can make fresh coconut milk. For that scrape  the coconut and keep soaked in hot water. Make a fine paste of the coconut and strain it, your coconut milk is ready.

5. As the gravy boils, add the fried prawns. Cover and cook on low-medium flame for 3-4min. do not overcook the prawns. Check seasoning, accordingly add salt and sugar. Switch off the heat. Add ghee and garam masala powder, close the lid immediately. Let it stand for 10min. Serve with steamed hot rice.

Coconut milk is the key ingredient of this dish. Aromatic garam masala with creamy coconut milk blended with flavorsome prawns makes this dish a topper. There are many who do not add any garlic and onion to their malaikari, even there are recipe that totally rejects usage of turmeric powder. But at the end it's individual's choice. I sometimes make my malaikari without any garlic, sometimes with cumin and without....but adding mustard paste or tomato or fennel paste to malaikari is a big no for me.

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  1. Lovely in black and white and a delicious sounding recipe! Thanks for submitting to BWW#89