Bengali cuisine is a melting pot of flavours and dishes. Their inclination towards meat, seafood and lentils is no stranger to us. Bengalis are known to be hard-core foodies who not only enjoy savoury curries but also love digging into desserts. They have a huge sweet tooth for chenna-based desserts like sandesh, kaccha gola, cham cham and more. Did you know that Bengali cuisine has a huge influence of the Arab and Persian culture? The Mughals had a great impact on the Bengali food and eating habits. While chicken and fish were commonly eaten, it was their fixation for mutton that introduced the Bengalis to a variety of lamb curries. In fact, things like biryani which were once food of the elite, slowly trickled onto the plates of middle and lower classes too. 

Although the meat-intensive cuisine of Bengal renders our minds to believe that there is rarely anything vegetarian, the opposite is true. They’ve got plenty of vegetarian dishes too. Take dum aloo as a case in point. The interesting bit is that Bengali cuisine also became slightly different in Bangladesh and West Bengal after the Partition. Largely, it is said that there are four types of food under Bengali cuisine, one that can be chewed, sucked, licked and drink-based foods. Now fish and rice or machh bhaat is commonly eaten in Bengali households. This can be easily chewed so it falls under the former category. Similarly, chutneys are meant to be licked and drinks usually comprises of milk-based beverages. 

Going back to the former category, it reminds us of a classic Bengali dish that is a usual suspect on the lunch table. We’re talking about Chingri Malaikari. Chingri refers to prawns in Bengali and malaikari is a type of curry in which the prawns are cooked. This together gives us a delicious prawn curry that you can have for lunch today. Have you tried it yet? 

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Cooked in thick coconut milk and flavoured with a nice blend of spices, you will get a subtle sweet taste as soon as you take a bite of it. Perfectly well-paired with steamed rice, all the flavours of chingri malai curry come out really well when mixed with rice. A thick curry made from onion, ginger garlic and some spices is dunked with chunky prawns and served hot. To begin making this dish, clean the prawns and rub them with some salt and turmeric powder before shallow-frying them. The prawns need to be tempered for which cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, peppercorn and a few other spices are added to a kadhai with oil. 

Next, onion paste and ginger-garlic paste is added to this along with lots of other spices like turmeric powder, salt and more. Then coconut milk is added to make a thick curry and finally the prawns are thrown in. All of this is combined together and cooked on low heat. A slight hint of sugar and the Chingri Malai curry is ready. Serve hot with rice. 

Here’s a detailed recipe for you to try.