Archive of BBC Food Recipes

King prawns in coconut curry sauce

Prep time less than 30 mins
Cook time less than 30 mins
Serves 2-3
From Saturday Kitchen
This popular Bengali curry, chingri malai, uses freshwater prawns in a spicy coconut sauce, served with smoky basmati rice.


  1. For the boiled basmati rice, add 600ml20fl oz of water to the saucepan, then add the rice and salt. Cook on a low heat until all the water has disappeared. Place a lid on top and set aside for 20 minutes.

  2. For the prawns, marinate the prawns with the turmeric and salt in a shallow dish in a cool place for 30 minutes to an hour.

  3. Heat 60ml/2fl oz of the oil in a pan and add the bay leaves and onion paste. Fry gently for 6-8 minutes on medium heat, or until very light brown.

  4. Meanwhile heat the remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the prawns briefly for a minute or two. Set aside.

  5. Mix the ground cumin, turmeric and ginger-garlic paste in 75ml/2½fl oz of water and add to the onions, reduce the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring regularly.

  6. Add salt, green chillies and the prawns and stir for one minute. Mix in the coconut milk and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or just until the prawns are cooked, adding a little shellfish stock if necessary.

  7. Season to taste with sugar. Sprinkle over the cardamom powder and coriander and a squeeze of lime. Stir the ghee and smoked salt into the rice and serve immediately.


For the boiled basmati rice

  • 350g/12oz basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • pinch smoked salt

For the prawns

  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g/14oz freshwater prawns, peeled and de-veined (the largest size you can find)
  • 90ml/3fl oz vegetable oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 medium red onions, blended to a fine paste
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 green chillies, slit lengthways
  • 75ml/2½fl oz coconut milk
  • shellfish stock, if needed
  • ½ tsp sugar (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground green cardamom
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • ½ lime, juice only

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