Bangladesh - Chingri Macher Malaikari
What’s your favorite protein for curry?
What a mouthful! Both in name and in flavor. This is apparently a very famous and popular Bengali dish that I made for a dinner party. Of course, the shrimp shrunk while cooking, otherwise, the entire pan would’ve been filled with beautifully seasoned shrimp with turmeric. The curry sauce was so good and spicy, but not so much that you can’t appreciate the wonderful spices used in the cooking process.
I paired it with a yogurt salad comprised of cucumbers, tomato, and red onion and this was the perfect side dish to really balance the spice from the curry and the simmered greens in the back. No joke, I could’ve sipped the liquid straight from the pan.
1 lb prawns or 2 lbs shrimp (peeled and deveined)
5 tbsp onion paste (from 1/4 yellow onion)
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp ginger (grated)
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
6 green chilies (finely chopped)
4 bay leaves
2 tbsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp ground cloves
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp red chili powder (or more to taste)
2 tbsp turmeric powder
14 oz coconut milk
Clean and peel the prawns. It's up to you if you want to leave the tails on, but I completely removed the shells and tails. Put them in a bowl and add turmeric and salt. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. I also only used 1 pound of shrimp, so they shrunk after cooking. If you're using shrimp, you might want to use 2 lbs, otherwise, 1 lb of prawns will be okay.
In a food processor, add about 1/4 of the yellow onion and about 1 tbsp of oil. Blend until it creates a paste.
Heat oil in a deep saute pan over medium-high heat. In batches, fry the prawns on both sides until golden. Set aside on a paper towel.
In the same oil or more if necessary, add the onion, ginger, garlic, and green chilies. Saute for about 4-5 minutes. It's going to smell good! Add the bay leaves and let it saute for about a minute. Add all of the spices, including the sugar and mix well. The sugar should start to melt and help everything caramelize.
After about a minute, add the coconut milk and about 1/3 cup of water. Mix the contents of the pan thoroughly. Depending on your flavor palate, add more chili powder or turmeric and salt. I added more chili powder to give it a richer red color. Mix well, and simmer on low heat for at least 25 minutes, uncovered. You want the liquid to reduce a little until it's thickened slightly. When time is up, add the prawns and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Serve with basmati rice. I made my rice flavored with turmeric. I also served this with a raiti (veggies in a yogurt sauce) and simmered greens. Perfection.
Recipe adapted from Bong Mom's Cookbook.