Prawn Balchao Recipe from Goa

Prawn Balchao
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  • 80 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
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Prawn Balchao is a fiery dish from Goa (in coastal western India) which is almost like a pickle. Do as the Goans do and serve it with hot plain boiled rice. The cuisine of the Goan region is heavily based on their abundant seafood, with influences from Hindu, Muslim, and Portuguese cultures.

This prawn pickle will keep in the refrigerator for several days, so it is something you can make up ahead and have on hand for guests or for meals later in the week.

What You'll Need

  • 2 pounds (1 kg) small to medium-sized prawns (cleaned and deveined)
  • 4 tbsps vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil
  • 2 large onions chopped fine
  • 3 large tomatoes chopped fine
  • 2 tbsps garlic paste or 7-10 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste or a 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped.
  • 10 to 12 dried red chilies
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2-inch stick of cinnamon
  • 8 to 10 cloves
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • Salt to taste

How to Make It

  1. Clean and devein the prawns. Put the prawns in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on them. Set them aside.
  2. Using a dry pan over medium heat, roast the dried red chilies, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, and cinnamon till they begin to release their aroma. Take off from the heat and cool.
  3. Grind the ginger, garlic and roasted spices into a smooth paste using the vinegar. You can do this with a small food processor or a mortar and pestle.
  1. Heat the oil on a medium flame in a wok-style pan. Add the prawns and stir fry till opaque. Remove from the pan and set them aside.
  2. In the same pan, fry the onions till light brown. Add the tomato and fry till soft.
  3. Now add the spice-vinegar paste, sugar and salt to taste and fry till the oil begins to separate from the masala.
  4. Add the prawns to this masala, mix well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Serve with piping hot, plain boiled rice.

You can enjoy this prawn pickle immediately or refrigerate it to enjoy the next day as all of the spices mingle and blossom. It can keep for a long time in the refrigerator, so if you can resist eating it all at once, you can enjoy it with meals for days to come.

You can adjust the amount of heat in this dish by varying the amount of the red chilies, which is the only hot spicy element. If you have a source of fresh curry leaves, add a few of them with the tomatoes to fry with the onions. They add a wonderful pungent element.