This time in Kolkata I ate lots of prawns. There was a wedding in the family and there was lots of lavish eating at home and outside. While I love prawns and I love chingri malai curry, I got a bit sick of it by the end of my trip because it figured on practically every menu.
In the run up to the wedding my mom and I cooked a special meal for my cousin who was getting married. Among the things we cooked were prawns and I was sure I wasn't making malai curry! I'd bought a stash of Bengali cook books, some new publications and some really old ones. Mom and I browsed through a couple of the books looking for something new to try out. We chanced upon a recipe for Dum Chingri where the ingredients were all mixed together and then steamed. It sounded simple and delicious and as different from malai curry as possible. I was sold on it and that's what I made.
The original recipe is in the book Rakamari Amish Ranna by Renuka Debi Chowdhurani. I have adapted it to suit my taste and convenience.
Large sized tiger prawns, deveined and washed.
1 cup onion paste
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp fresh ginger paste
6 to 10 fresh green chillies, made into a paste
1/2 cup good quality mustard oil
Leave the heads and tails of the prawns on. Devein and wash the prawns and then drain. Make a thick paste of all the other ingredients reserving some of the mustard oil. marinate the prawns in this mix for at least 30 minutes.
Ideally you should saute the marinated prawns lightly for a few minutes and then put the whole lot into a covered vessel, place the covered vessel in a larger pot with boiling water and let the prawns steam till done. You must take care that water doesn't get into the prawns from the outer vessel. This is what the original recipe demands.
I decided to skip this hassle and simply put the marinated prawns into the rice cooker and let them cook till they were done. Since the prawns were quite large and there were quite a few of them I cooked them for about 20 minutes in all. I did check them after the first 15 minutes and turned them over so they all cooked evenly.
You can do the same or simply place them in any cooking pot that had a tight cover and cook them on your hob. Keep them on a medium heat and leave them undisturbed so that they cook in the steam that builds up in the pot. Just check once, after about 15 minutes and then cook further if required. Whatever method you opt for, remember to pour the reserved mustard oil on top of the prawns before shutting the vessel and putting them on the heat.
Serve the prawns with plain hot rice.
A simple no fuss recipe, this preparation gives the prawns a chance to shine. The lovely sweetish fresh water prawns were a super hit at the dinner.
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