Prawn Malaikari (Prawns in a rich coconut gravy)

With Dusshera around the corner (read Vijaya Dashami for Bengalis), here’s my version of the classic “Chingrir Malaikari”. Though there are many quite popular prawn preparations, this has been so far my favorite of the lot.

We, Bengalis are hard-core seafood lovers and the festive season doesn’t get fulfilled without a succulent bite of prawns accompanied with some fragrant basmati rice. You will also find different versions of this recipe as you surf on the internet, but this is how my mom prepares it and I haven’t liked any other version better than this one. The use of coconut milk might make one believe that this is similar to Goanese cuisine, but trust me it’s not alike at all. The flavorful mustard oil along with rich, creamy coconut milk accompanied with some whole spices makes this a treat to be savored for eternity.Ā 

Now I have heard several versions of “how this dish evolved”. Some say that it is inherited from Malaysian cuisine and hence the name “Malay”. The common thread between the two being the use of coconut milk. Some say that “malay” in itself represents coconut milk. Whatever the story is, we surely love it to the moon and cannot imagine spending any festival without drooling over it.

This dish tastes better with jumbo prawns (“Golda chingri” as we call them) with their heads attached. The heads add another dimension to this dish, but if you cannot get your hands on such gigantic prawns, you can also add the normal widely available prawns like I did. The best part of this recipe is that it is light on the tummy because of the use of less spices but still tastes heavenly.

Prawn Malaikari (Prawns in a rich coconut gravy)

This is a rich creamy coconut based preparation of prawns deriving its roots from eastern part of India. Every bite of the juicy prawns blended with creamy coconut milk is a delight in itself. Best paired with steamed long-grained rice.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Coconut milk, Prawn
Servings: 2 persons
Calories: 691kcal
Author: Anindita Das


  • 250 gms Prawn
  • 1 qty onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 6 qty green chillies
  • 1 tsp mustard oil
  • 2 qty Bay leaf
  • 1 qty cinnamon
  • 4 qty cardamom
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • coriander leaves for garnish


  • Rub the prawns with turmeric and salt and shallow fry them till they get light golden in color.
  • Take the onion, garlic and green chillies and make a paste out of it.
  • Pour mustard oil on the frying pan and temper the bayleaf, cardamom and cinnamon.
  • Next add the onion-garlic mixture prepared in step 2 and fry it till the onions become golden brown in color.
  • Add the coconut milk, salt and turmeric and continue stirring till the gravy thickens and you can see the oil seperating from the gravy.
  • Add the mustard powder and the fried prawns.
  • Next add some water (according to the desired thickness of the gravy) and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with some coriander leaves and serve with hot steamed rice.


Please note:
  1. Overcooking the prawns make them rubbery and hence care should be taken while frying the prawns.
  2. Do not use the store bought "kasundi" as a substitute for mustard powder. Instead buy some yellow mustard seeds, slightly dry roast them and prepare a powder out of it.

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[…] particularly Bengali New year and Durga Puja. I have one such recipe for the festive seasonĀ hereĀ as well, if you have not read it […]

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