Chingri Malai Kari – Bengali King Prawn Coconut Curry

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My brother and I grew up loathing fish. Strange really, as we grew up in a household of seafood lovers. Whenever Mum would fix up Dad’s favourites of fish pakoras, salmon tikka or king prawn curry, Aj and I would grimace and hold our noses pretending to make dying noises, as we walked past the kitchen. As I said… we were not fans!

Annoyingly we both really wanted to like seafood – especially my brother. So much so, that he even tried hypnosis (this actually proved to be quite successful until he had an undesirable experience with a fish bone but that’s another story for another time). I opted for the more traditional approach and began by trying the “least fishy” dish out there. Fish and chips obviously. Beer battered deep fried fish accompanied with chips and lashings of salt and vinegar (and to the disgrace of southerners, curry sauce)… what was not to like?? From then on, I slowly progressed and have now become more adventurous with my fishy choices. 

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Marrying into a Bengali family has also helped. Hubby’s family hail from West Bengal which is famously known as the land of maach (fish) and bhaat (rice). Bengalis share an irrevocable relationship with these two foods that are a staple in almost every household. My mother in law is an excellent cook (I’m not just saying that in-case she reads my blog) so it’s become even easier to embrace the deliciousness that is, dare I say it, fish!

Today’s recipe is inspired by dinnertime at the in-laws and is an absolute Bengali classic. Uber satisfying devoured with steaming hot basmati rice, Chingri Malaikari is a creamy, spicy, coconuty delight to eat. Oh and tip – the bigger and juicer the prawn you can get, the better. Enjoy! x 

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CHINGRI MALAIKARI – BENGALI KING PRAWN COCONUT CURRY
Serves 2
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Prawn preparation
  1. 12 King Prawns (de-veined and de-shelled)
  2. 1 tsp salt
  3. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  4. 1 tsp paprika powder
For the gravy/masala
  1. 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 2 tbsp mustard oil (optional, can use vegetable oil)
  3. 2 tbsp ghee (optional)
  4. 1" cinnamon stick
  5. 3 cloves
  6. 4 peppercorns
  7. 1 bay leaf
  8. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  9. 1 small onion, finely diced
  10. 2"ginger, grated
  11. 2 cloves garlic, grated
  12. 2 bird eye green chillis, vertically sliced in halves
  13. 1 tsp salt
  14. 1/2 tsp paprika
  15. 1 tsp garam masala
  16. 1/4 tsp sugar
  17. 300ml coconut milk
  18. water
Instructions
  1. Place prawns in a bowl. Sprinkle on the salt, turmeric and paprika and mix well.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp vegetable oil in a non-stick pan. Once hot, add the prawns and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Turn the prawns over and cook for a further 2 minutes. The prawns should be firm and white. Remove from the pan.
  3. Heat the mustard oil and ghee in the previously used pan. Once hot, add the cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf and cumin.
  4. When these whole spices begin to splatter, add the onions and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Now add the ginger and garlic and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Add salt, paprika, turmeric, garam masala sugar and 2 tbsp water into a bowl and mix together to make a paste. Add this paste to the pan along with the green chillis and mix well.
  6. Now add the coconut milk and 1 cup of water . Bring to boil and allow the gravy to thicken. Reduce heat and cook for 3-4 minutes or until it is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon. Check for salt and adjust accordingly.
  7. Now add the prawns. Allow to simmer for a further 3-4 minutes and turn off the heat.
Notes
  1. If you do not have all of the whole spices, it does not matter - you can still make the dish without them!
  2. Be careful not overcook the prawns once you add them in the gravy as they can toughen and become rubbery.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Spicy Mushroom Potato Sabji

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Something life changing happened last week. We got a mattress topper. I thought our bed was nice as it was but oh Lordy…comfort levels have now been taken to the upper echelons of the slumber world. And as much as I am loving the ridiculous amount of snuggly cosiness this new topper has brought into my life, it seems to have simultaneously introduced a problem. You know when you look at the clock and realise you were supposed to be somewhere 10 minutes ago…yeah that. I can no longer get out of bed in the mornings! 

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I went through a similar experience over the weekend where I woke up late and I had to leave the house asap. Whilst getting ready I realised I was starving and wouldn’t get home till late. I started pondering over what I could make. Okay Monica, think quick food. Cereal? Out of milk. Eggs? Nada. Sandwich? No bread..or filling for that matter. I hurried downstairs and opened the door to a relatively bare looking fridge (it had been one of those weeks). I saw pomegranate, and baby button mushrooms. I picked the latter. I then opened the pantry and saw onions & potatoes. Boom. I had an idea. Ten minutes later I had a spicy mushroom & potato sabji. I wrapped it in a chapati and gobbled it up in seconds. It was delicious! I’d like to think it didn’t have anything to do with my hunger as I was craving it when I got home and made it all over again for dinner.

Quick, simple, easy and spicy! Have a go. 

Oh before I sign off, just a quick thank you to you guys as Spice Diary was recently ranked in the top 50 food blogs in India. Thanks for your support lovely people! <3

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Spicy Mushroom & Potato Sabji
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 75g button mushrooms, washed & cut in half
  2. 3 small potatoes, washed
  3. 1 small red onion, sliced
  4. 2 tbsp olive oil
  5. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  6. 1 birds eye green chilli, whole
  7. 1 tsp salt (or according to taste)
  8. 1 tsp sambar masala
  9. handful fresh coriander
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes in a plastic bag and tie a knot. Pierce a hole and place in microwave. Cook on highest power setting for 7 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Then cut into 2" chunks.
  2. Whilst potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the cumin. Th cumin should splatter immediately. Now add the onions, chilli and mushrooms.
  3. Sauté for 30 seconds, then add the salt and sambar masala. Mix well and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  4. Now add the cooked potatoes, and mix. Cook for another minute and add the coriander. Mix.
  5. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat & enjoy!
Notes
  1. 1) Sambar masala is a spicy, tangy spice blend available at all Indian grocery shops. I have also seen it in some supermarkets in the worldwide section so worth checking!
  2. 2) When cooking potatoes, some microwaves have different power intensities, so just check potatoes are cooked by cutting through them with a knife.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Punjabi Chickpea Curry – CHANNA MASALA

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So for the next 9 days I am vegetarian. It’s a Hindu thing.

Okay I’ll elaborate.  The Hindu festival of “Navratri” takes place over the next nine days. It’s referred to by the elders as an “auspicious occasion” and one that symbolises the triumph of good over evil! It’s also a time where celebrations are expressed in the form of colour, family reunions, force feeding of Indian sweets by random aunties, dancing and eating (very possibly followed by more dancing and eating). Although the “eating” comes in the form of vegetarian food, it’s not really a problem for me as:

a) I’m not a huge carnivore anyway
b) I was a vegetarian for 3 of my teen years (I gave up when I moved to America-damn the USA with their tasty junk food that looks awful but tastes so darned good. I’m looking at you Mr pancakes topped with crispy bacon & maple syrup!
c) There is no shortage of delish Indian vegetarian dishes

It is slightly more of an issue for my other half however, as his dreams of kick-starting the week with Murgh Masala Monday & Tandoori Chicken Tuesday, sadly no longer exist. It is for this reason that I have decided to cook up some vegetarian dishes this week that deliver an extra portion of dishoom – hopefully easing the burn of the lack of “meatiness” in the kitchen. 

Today’s recipe is spicy, filling, comforting and moreish – I don’t know how many more adjectives I need to list about this dish before it screams out MAKE ME! Enjoy and do let me know your thoughts. Oh and p.s . Happy National Curry Week!

Punjabi Chickpea Curry
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup chickpeas, raw
  2. pinch of baking soda
  3. 4 tbsp olive oil
  4. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  5. 3” cinnamon stick (optional)
  6. 2 cloves (optional)
  7. 3 peppercorns (optional)
  8. 2 bay leaves (optional)
  9. 1 black cardamom (optional)
  10. 1 large onion, peeled
  11. 1 birds eye chilli (optional)
  12. 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  13. 2" ginger, washed
  14. 2 tsp salt
  15. 1 tsp garam masala
  16. 1 tsp paprika
  17. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  18. 1/2 tsp amchur (mango powder)
  19. 2 plum tomatoes & 2 tbsp juice
  20. handful fresh coriander
Instructions
  1. Soak chickpeas and baking soda in water overnight
  2. Wash and rinse thoroughly
  3. Place chickpeas in a pressure cooker. Cover with water until the water level is 1 1/2" above the chickpeas. Add 1 tsp of salt and place lid on carefully. Cook for 12 minutes after the first whistle. Turn off heat. Allow to de-pressurise naturally before removing lid.
  4. If you do not have a pressure cooker, place chickpeas with salt in a pan of water (same water level as above) and bring to boil. Now reduce the heat and allow to simmer until tender and cooked all the way through. This can take between 35-45 minutes. (If the water reduces before they have cooked, add more boiling water to the pan).
  5. To make the masala, coarsely grind onions in a processor and place in a bowl. Now coarsely grind the chilli, ginger and garlic.
  6. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Once hot add the cumin alongside the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf and black cardamom.
  7. When they begin to splatter in the oil, add the ground onions. Add 1/2 tsp salt and cook for 4 minutes, stirring continuously.
  8. When they turn slightly translucent, add the ground chilli, ginger and garlic mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the masala turns completely golden.
  9. Now reduce the heat and add the remaining salt, garam masala, paprika, turmeric and amchur powder and mix well. Now add the plum tomatoes and juice and mash into the masala. When the oil begins to separate from the masala, add the chickpeas and 1 cup of water and bring to boil and cook for 5-6 minutes on high heat.
  10. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Serve with hot chapatis, naan or basmati rice!
Notes
  1. You can add or reduce water depending on how dry or wet you would like the dish to be. Some like it to be wetter if serving with rice or drier if serving with breads.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/