This is a popular and traditional Bengali dish. This chingri macher features a distinct mustard taste that works well with the coconut and the sweetness of the prawns.
The Bengalis love mustard. Everything has mustard, is cooked with mustard, even served with mustard. This dish is no exception. The mustard oil, seeds and powder may seem a little excessive, but trust me, the dish works perfectly.
It is a dry dish, in that there is no sauce. Most of the liquid is cooked out before the prawns are added. It should not be too dry in the sense of being crisp. You want delicate, moist and flavoursome prawns, covered in moist coconut.
To wow your guests, you could serve this in a coconut shell. If you have used fresh coconut – recommended – you will probably have the shell left over. Simply arrange the prawns inside the shell and serve. This serving method is common in Kolkata.
The chickpea flour, or besan, is available from good supermarkets and Indian grocers. It is used quite extensively in Indian cooking, particularly for making batters.
- 1 kg prawns - shelled and deveined
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp chickpea flour - (besan)
- 2 tsp mustard powder
- 3 tbsp mustard oil
- 3 tsp black mustard seeds
- 3 green chillies
- 1 red onion - halved and finely sliced
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- 30 g ginger - minced
- 12 curry leaves
- 150 g coconut - grated
- ½ cup coriander leaves
- Place the prawns into a glass bowl. Mix the turmeric, kashmiri chilli and salt and sprinkle over the prawns. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
- In a dry pan, roast the besan until it turns a golden brown colour. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Once besan has cooled, blend the mustard powder, besan and a splash of water, to a paste in a small bowl. Set aside..
- Heat the mustard oil in a karahi or wok over a medium heat until smoking. Remove from the heat when you have a clear, translucent oil. Set aside to cool for two minutes.
- Add the mustard seeds to the oil, return the pan to the heat and cook until the seeds start to sizzle.
- Add the green chillies and onion, stir well and fry for eight minutes, or until softened.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and curry leaves. Cook for two minutes or until raw garlic aroma has gone.
- Add the reserved mustard paste and grated coconut,. Stir well to combine. Fry the mixture for five minutes, then add 100ml water and continue cooking for another three minutes, or until the volume of liquid has reduced,and the sauce is very thick.
- Add the prawns and cook, stirring or tossing until prawns are cooked. They need to take on a pink colour and have curled; this takes only three minutes or so.
- Remove from heat, sprinkle with the coriander and serve.
- Choose the largest prawns you can get.
- Fishmongers may well sell prawns that have already been shelled and de-veined. If that is the case, you only require around 600g of prawns.