Local Heart, Global Soul

June 21, 2013

Step-by-Step Indian Cooking Lesson: Chingri (Prawn) Malai Curry (An Original Bengali Speciality)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Chingri (Prawn) Malai Curry (An Original Bengali Speciality)

16-20 medium sized prawns (approx 1kg)
½ teaspoon Turmeric powder
2 medium onions (finely chopped)
3-4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoon (grated) root ginger
3 bay leaves
4-5 whole green cardamoms
4-5 cloves
½ small stick cinnamon
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon gee (or vegetable oil)
½ teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
1 chopped chili or ½ teaspoon chili powder (optional)

In this recipe we will be using creamed coconut, which at first I thought was coconut cream by just another name and raised the question: How then are either of these different to coconut milk?

I didn’t know so I googled: Wikipedia tells me: Creamed coconut is a coconut product,  the unsweetened dehydrated fresh meat of a mature coconut, ground to a semi-solid white creamy paste. It is sold in the form of a hard white block which can be stored at room temperature. It has an intense coconut flavor. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In cookery it is chopped into pieces or grated before it is added to dishes.

By adding warm water it can be made into coconut milk or coconut cream.
Creamed coconut is added to Indian, Thai and Asian recipes to enrich curries and sauces.

In the west it is primarily used in confectionery items, ice cream, and sauces. Not to be confused with the related coconut cream, which is a liquid.

Coconut cream is very similar to coconut milk but contains less water. The difference is mainly consistency.

It has a thicker, more paste-like consistency, while coconut milk is generally a liquid. Coconut cream is used as an ingredient in cooking, having a mild non-sweet taste.

Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a coconut. The color and rich taste of the milk can be attributed to the high oil content. Most of the fat is saturated fat.

I understand that people around the world have different access (or not) to specialist ingredients and therefore since I have a few more  recipes in this series I will also soon be running a competition where you will be invited to make a comment on  these genuine Indian recipes.One lucky winner will then receive a small parcel of the more specialist items so that they can make and enjoy these recipes at home as well. Watch this space!

Method:

Clean and wash the prawns thoroughly. Add a little salt and turmeric powder to the washed prawns and leave to one side.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In a medium shallow pan or wok, heat the oil…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Crush the whole green cardamoms slightly in a mortar and pestle to get maximum flavour…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the whole green cardamoms and the whole cloves to the oil…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then add the pieces of cinnamon and the bay leaves… and saute for a few minutes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now add the chopped onions and chili (optional) and stir fry until the onions turn soft brown (approx 7 minutes).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Next add the ginger paste  and continue frying the mixture until the oil separates from the masala (spices)  This should take 4-5 minutes. If the mixture sticks in the pan add a little water to prevent burning.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now add about 3/4 the coconut milk (don’t  use it all yet!) and simmer for about 5 minutes. Here is what our block of creamed coconut looked like…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The coconut cream mixed with water…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

How much of it we used at this stage of the recipe…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ok, this photo should have come before the last one, this the first lot of coconut cream and water going into the pan…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Let it gently simmer for a few minutes on low…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the sugar (not pictured) and salt…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Finally add the prawns to the mixture and stir thoroughly.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now add the leftover coconut cream and water…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Simmer gently so that the shrimp start to cook through… (they will start to turn from a grey colour on the outside to pink)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add  the gee (clarified butter) , it adds a richness to the taste and helps thicken the sauce just a little. Cook until the prawns are done (5-6 minutes)  Teacher’s Note: Do not use garlic sauce since it will over-power the delicate taste of the prawns.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Finally sprinkle with gram masala powder…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Teacher’s Serving Tip: serve with Peas Pilau or Indian bread.

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