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Prawn Malai Curry - An Incredible Bengali Recipe

Updated on May 23, 2015
Prawn Malai Curry served with Pulao
Prawn Malai Curry served with Pulao

Rich Prawn Malai Curry

Prawn Malai Curry is a traditional Bengali recipe and is prepared on special occasions. While prawns are used in myriad ways for various dishes, this has become a widely loved dish and is also one of my favorites.

While there are many variations to this recipe, this is the one I have settled with as it gives me a rich, creamy and smooth texture to my curry. The coconut neutralizes the spicy effect of the masala (while retaining the masala's taste making properties), which makes the curry just right while the taste of prawns is indeed heightened this way. Definitely, the combination of the coconut milk, prawns and spices, enhances the flavor of the curry to a truly indelible extent.

I have used only one onion and have omitted tomatoes entirely as I wanted the coconut milk to give a dominating flavor to the gravy. The sugar, an oft used item in Bengali dishes (dal, curry) adds an obvious sweetness which coupled with the prawn's inherent sweetness, makes this dish turn out with just the right amount of spiciness and sweetness - so good. I usually go with medium sized prawns as it gives an awesome taste to the curry or masala and while I use mustard oil in this recipe (really does a great job at making a great flavor base for the curry, both in terms of cooking it and in the finished dish itself), however, you may use any other oil for it as well.

Alright then, here's the recipe.

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 45 min
Yields: 2-3 people
Prawns with shells removed
Prawns with shells removed
Coconut milk
Coconut milk


  • 250 gms prawns
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp whole garam masala (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil
  • Salt (according to taste)
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves (chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar

Preparation for the curry

1. De-shell the prawns, clean it with water 2-3 times. Drain the water and marinate the prawns with little salt and turmeric powder.

2. Grate the onion.

Instructions for cooking the curry

1. Take a pan and heat the mustard oil on a medium flame until the fumes dissipate. Add bay leaf and whole garam masala and then add the cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds and masala splutter, add the grated onion and fry till the onion turn changes its color. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for a couple of minutes.

2. Add 2 tbsp of water, slow the flame, then add turmeric, chilly, coriander and cumin powder, sugar and stir so that the masala blends with the onion and the oil starts separating from the masala.

3. Add the marinated prawns and stir for 5 minutes on a low flame with the lid on.

4. Add the coconut milk and salt (according to your taste) and let the curry boil on a low-medium flame for 5-7 minutes and then add the garam masala. Stir properly and let the prawns cook on a slow flame till they get tender.

5. This is optional but if you like your curry to be thinner, you could add some water here, how much of water would really depend on your preference of the curry texture.

6. At this point, oh I love this, while the prawn aroma has been building all this while, it reaches its finesse here, indicating that the prawns are being done well.

7. Switch the flame off and sprinkle the coriander leaves over your curry.

8. The Prawn Malai Curry is ready.

You could have this curry with plain or jeera rice, pulao (as I've done), roti or nan. I love prawns and this is something new for me to cook as I have gone with the gravy and masala versions before on my cooking roster for prawns. But I loved this dish so much that I have to recommend it to all of you prawn lovers out there. You really ought to try this dish out - I know you will love it as I do.

Curry is nearly done, boiling at this stage
Curry is nearly done, boiling at this stage
5 stars from 1 rating of Prawn Malai Curry


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