Prawns enjoy a special status amongst seafood aficionados. I have my favorites:
- Grilled Garlic Prawns
- Barbequed Prawns (New Orleans Style)
- Prawn Ravioli in Seafood Bisque
- Bean Sprout Prawn Salad (Vietnamese style)
- Javanese Prawn Curry
- Karavali Prawns (Prawns in Konkani style)
- Prawns in Mustard & Coconut Milk Curry or Chingri Macher Malaikari (Bengali Style)
I personally do not fancy Kadhai Prawns and other compulsive dishes like Methi Prawns and Prawns Kachalu. Chingri Macher Malaikari is a personal favorite. The fact that it is an original dish native to a geography which has a history of cooking and eating prawns, makes it all the more interesting. Chingri Macher Malaikari is best had with plain white rice, allowing the flavors to play on the steamed rice, complimenting the prawns. The best part is that the gravy as well as the prawns carry loads of flavor.
Traditionally, Prawn Malaikari is made with fresh prawns with the heads intact, but cleaned thoroughly. Canned coconut milk works equally well and saves effort of the grating coconut and pressing it to get its milk. The third most important ingredient is yellow mustard. Tomatoes and a small portion of yellow mustard gives this dish that tangy taste. Prawns of course are fried/ tossed first and kept on the side while the gravy, which requires all the effort is made. Once the gravy is almost ready the prawns are added and the dish is completed over slow fire. It is important to ensure that the prawns don’t get overcooked, neither at the frying stage nor at the stage of adding them to the gravy.
Of course, this is not an everyday dish and is the main dish at any formal Bengali dining. Enjoy!