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 then immediately reduce the heat and simmer 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 Sea Bass Masala

I have never been biggest fan of fish or seafood in general, well apart from deep fried battered cod or haddock with chips but in my head that doesn’t really count. So, when my Mum bought home sea bass last week I was skeptical about trying it. She told me that it would go well with a really spicy masala and rice. I was still dubious towards making it but thought with sea bass being quite mild in flavour and with Madre leading the way, it had to be worth a try..
..I have got to say, I was super surprised and really pleased at how it turned out!  The rich masala and the texture of the fish accompanied by the rice worked really well together. I felt like a true Bengali,  mashing the fish with the rice and eating with my right hand. There’s something about using your hands to eat dishes like this instead of using cutlery that just adds to the enjoyment of eating the meal! Practically speaking, this also helped in the avoidance of consuming the tiny bones. (NB. If you are concerned about the bones, you can ask your fish monger to debone the sea bass fillets).
So all in all, I have to say I think this dish may have been a turning point for me, in regards to my liking of fish..and that’s huge for me!
Regardless, enjoy guys. Let me know how it turns out for you!

Serves 2

What we need:
1 sea bass (skinned and cut into 4 steaks)
2 tbsp plain flour
1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1″ ginger, grated
1/4 tin plum tomatoes
1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped (you can add more depending on how spicy you like it)
handful fresh corriander
1 tbsp yogurt

Also, have to hand:
salt
chilli powder
turmeric powder (haldi)
garam masala
1 black cardomom, crushed
cumin seeds

How we do:

  • Clean the fish and dry with kitchen towel. Place the flour mixed with  1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp chilli powder, on a plate.
  • Cover each fish steak in the flour mixture. Pat each steak  to remove any excess flour.
  • Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a non stick pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the steak of fish to the pan. When the bottom of the fish turn white, turn the steaks over. Repeat this process for the other side. Remove the fish.
  • In the same pan, add another 2tbsp olive oil. Add the cumin seeds and crushed black cardomom.
  • When they begin to sizzle, add the onions. Once they turn a light golden colour, add the garlic, ginger and green chilli. Now add the 1/4 tsp chilli powder, 1/4 turmeric powder, 1/4 garam masala, 1 1/2 tsp salt and the coriandar.
  • Then add the plum tomatoes and mix well.
  • Cook the masala on medium heat 5 minutes, constantly stirring.
  • You will know that it’s cooked when you see the oil  begin to separate from the masala.
  • Add the sea bass to the masala and add 1/4 cup of water. Simmer for 5 minutes  on medium heat.
  • Add 1 tbsp of yogurt and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with rice.
  • BALLE BALLE! You’re done. Enjoy 🙂