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King Prawn Coconut Curry

This popular Bengali prawn curry, chingri malai, has a spicy coconut sauce and is served with smoky basmati rice.

Prep Time

    •    Prep time: less than 30 minutes
    •    Cook time: 30 minutes
    •    Yield: Serves 2-3


For the boiled basmati rice:

    •    1 tbsp ghee
    •    pinch smoked salt
    •    350g/12oz basmati rice

For the prawns:

    •    1 tsp salt
    •    2 bay leaves
    •    ½ lime, juice only
    •    1 tbsp ground cumin
    •    ½ tsp ground turneric
    •    1 tsp ground turmeric
    •    ½ tsp sugar (optional)
    •    90ml/3fl oz vegetable oil
    •    shellfish stock, if needed
    •    75ml/2½fl oz coconut milk
    •    2 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
    •    2 green chillies, slit lengthways
    •    ½ tsp ground green cardamom
    •    1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
    •    400ml/14oz prawns, peeled and de-veined
    •    3 medium red onions, blended to a fine paste


  1. For the boiled basmati rice, add 600ml20fl oz of water to the saucepan, then add the rice and salt. Cook on a low heat until all the water has disappeared. Place a lid on top and set aside for 20 minutes.

  2. For the prawns, marinate the prawns with the turmeric and salt in a shallow dish in a cool place for 30 minutes to an hour.

  3. Heat 60ml/2fl oz of the oil in a pan and add the bay leaves and onion paste. Fry gently for 6-8 minutes on medium heat, or until very light brown.

  4. Meanwhile heat the remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the prawns briefly for a minute or two. Set aside.

  5. Mix the ground cumin, turmeric and ginger-garlic paste in 75ml/2½fl oz of water and add to the onions, reduce the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring regularly.

  6. Add salt, green chillies and the prawns and stir for one minute. Mix in the coconut milk and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or just until the prawns are cooked, adding a little shellfish stock if necessary.

  7. Season to taste with sugar. Sprinkle over the cardamom powder and coriander and a squeeze of lime. Stir the ghee and smoked salt into the rice and serve immediately.

This great family recipe is thanks to BBC Recipes at


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