Saturday, October 21, 2017

Chingri Maacher Malai Curry - Shrimp in Coconut Sauce

 Chingri Maacher Malai Curry
The perfect festive dish to take along to a potluck, this shrimp curry is a Bengali favourite at any gathering. Malai means cream, but instead of using whipping cream, cream from a can of coconut milk is used. Suppress the natural inclination to shake the can before opening, and remove the cream that collects on the inside of the can top and keep scooping out the coconut cream from the can until the thin coconut milk becomes visible.

Purchase the largest raw shrimp that is available. I was lucky enough to find peeled & deveined shrimp that tasted divine. My indication of success is when children like what I cook and had fun watching the littlest kids clamoring for 'fish!' last night at a Diwali potluck.

First Cooking of Shrimp

To keep the shrimp soft and succulent, I introduced them to the sauce at the start, removed them and reintroduced them at the end of the cooking process.
Knowing there were going to be children at this get-together, I kept away from the stronger spices and kept the sauce simple.

3 lbs. (16-20 ct./lb.) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup coconut cream or cream from top half of coconut milk can
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped
1 large pod garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
1 Tbsp. garlic paste
1 tsp. Kashmiri mirch or paprika
1/2 tsp. Bengali garam masala powder (ground cinnamon, cardamoms & cloves)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. fennel seeds
salt to taste
cilantro for garnish, minced

  1. Remove shell from shrimp tails, if necessary, and wash.
  2. Boil a cup of water in a saucepan and blanch quartered onions and garlic.
  3. Drain, reserving blanching liquid for gravy, and keeping it on a low simmer.
  4. Blend onions and garlic to a paste with tomatoes and remaining ingredients except shrimp, fennel seeds, sliced onions and cilantro.
  5. Heat oil over medium-high heat and temper with fennel seeds.
  6. When the fennel seeds begin sputtering, add sliced onions and stir-fry until translucent.
  7. Pour blended paste over stir-fried onions, lower heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Tip shrimp into skillet, stir to coat with sauce, cover and simmer for 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.
  9. Remove shrimp from skillet, add simmering blanching liquid and continue to simmer sauce until it's thick and reaches desired consistency.
  10. Add coconut cream and stir, return shrimp to skillet and stir again. 
  11. Adjust salt to taste and continue simmering for another 5 minutes.
  12. Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro.
Serve on a bed of steamed Basmati rice.

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