This post and recipe for Chingri Malaikari (Shrimp Curry with Coconut Milk) originally appeared on my old blog, My Fancy Pantry in 2012. I have updated the recipe here and made changes according to how I currently make this dish. I’ve learned a lot since then, so my recipes and methods have also evolved. I hope you enjoy this new, improved, recipe. If you’d like to see the old one, you can find it here.
I have a confession to make. Even though I consider myself an adventurous eater, I am still pretty judgmental. I might even be a bit of a “food snob.” The truth is, I always have been. If something looks or smells funny, I might still try it; but I make no promises (ehhmm…pickles!).
Growing up, I had a list of foods I would absolutely refuse to eat. The list included (but was not limited to): onions, shrimp (and other sea creatures), pickles, most vegetables and tomatoes (unless they were sauced, smashed, diced or in the form of ketchup. I loved ketchup).
As I’ve gotten older, I notice my taste-buds have evolved quite dramatically and most things on my list have been crossed off. But, it wasn’t until I developed a love for Indian food (and a certain Indian) that I began to appreciate onions, tomatoes, veggies…and shrimp.
Thankfully. I had no idea what I was missing!
This particular curry originates from West Bengal, India. Although my recipe isn’t entirely traditional, it’s flavor is pretty close.
Chingri Malaikari (Creamy Shrimp Curry) has a base made from coconut milk and onions. It’s flavored with bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, and clove. This is one of the first Bengali recipes I learned, and I think it’s a great introduction to the cuisine. The curry is very well balanced and quite delicious. It’s also incredibly easy and fast to make!
I might even say it’s my favorite!
Are there any foods that once disgusted you but now you love? Tell me about it in the comments! I know I can’t be alone…
Chingri Malaikari: Creamy Shrimp Curry
- 1/2 to 1 lb. large shrimp*
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil–substitute, if necessary.
- 1/2 large onion, finely chopped (around 100 grams)
- 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick, broken*
- 6 whole cloves
- 10 green cardamom pods
- 4 medium-sized Indian bay leaves*
- 1.5 Tbsp. ginger paste (I like SHAN brand)*
- 1.5 Tbsp. garlic paste (I like SHAN brand)*
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder, or to taste (I used MDH Deghi Mirch. It’s not too hot and gives a good color)
- 1-14 oz. can coconut milk (I like Thai Kitchen)
- 1/4 – 1/2 c. water, as needed
- salt–to taste
- Peel and de-vein the shrimp, leaving the tails intact–if you can.
- Put the shrimp in a bowl, add the lemon juice and some water, then toss them together and leave them sit for around 5 minutes. Rinse the Shrimp under cold water and pat dry.
- Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Cook until the onion begins to turn brown and the spices become fragrant.
- Add the garlic and ginger pastes as well as the turmeric and chili powder. Let cook for a minute or two. You’ll notice the oil separating from the onion/spice mixture, that’s how you’ll know it’s cooked long enough.
- Tip in the coconut milk (and the cream), stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil. If your gravy looks a bit thick, add about a 1/4 cup of water.
- Bring the gravy to a simmer and add the shrimp to the pan. Cook for a minute or two then flip the shrimp. Stir everything so that all the shrimp are well coated.
- Simmer until the gravy becomes as thick as you would like. Add a bit of water if the consistancy becomes too thick. Season with salt.
- Enjoy with rice or rotis!!!
- The amount of shrimp I use sometimes varies, depending on how many people I’m feeding and whether or not this is a main course or a side dish. I have cooked this recipe with as few as 15 shrimp (around 1/2 pound) and as many as 40 shrimp (over 1 lb). The amount of curry (gravy) will stay the same.
- I prefer to use the flat cinnamon bark, I feel that it gives a better flavor to the curry.
- Substitute regular bay leaves, if you must. I really recommend buying a bag of bay leaves from your local Indian market, though. They’re inexpensive and can be used for a variety of recipes. I even like them in my tea!
- Because I’m a busy mom, I will usually cut corners a bit and use pre-made garlic/ginger paste. Grinding your own is always the best, but in a pinch I’ve found the SHAN brand to be my family’s favorite.