Prawn Balchao, a spicy Goan Temptation

Monsoon in India bring forth pictures of a Goan trip to the mind. The vacation that is reminiscent of fresh salty sea breeze that awaken the nostrils the moment your foot touches this mesmerizing place. The tall, lean swaying coconut trees lining the roads, lush greenery, with the heavy monsoon rains transforming the landscape and the freshly grilled seafood on your platter, what more could a foodie ask? It definitely is the place to be in for a relaxing time away from the bustling cities, and if you have never visited than it is high time you include that in your bucket list. The other attraction that I simply love about the place is the bikes and two wheelers that one can rent out and zoom off on the roads with no set destination in mind, just soaking in the view of the tall coconut trees, rice fields on both sides of the road, farm workers busy in their fields, just breathing the fresh air and being lost in the moment.

The small villages that one can stop over while zooming off on the road trip gives us an exposure to experience the local life at close quarters. The friendly Goan people, the fishing folks, the smartly dressed fisherwoman selling the fresh catch at the local markets, the down-to-earth and merrier nature of the local life can be best experienced thus, not to forget the music. The local dressing of these fisher woman with fresh flowers adorning the neatly done hair leaves us with awe, the whole attire including the beautiful gold jewellery. The numerous different beaches lining the Goan sea-coast are worth the visit. I have visited this wonderful land only twice in the span of a decade, but both the trips were very dear and have given me the opportunity to taste some authentic Goan style cooking that have become part of my cooking style. Anything new is always fascinating and worth trying out. The Goan Kokum (Garcinia Indica, the English name as per Wikipedia) is a must have in my kitchen cabinet/fridge, cooking seafood becomes incomplete without addition of this ingredient. Fresh coconut is another which I cannot do without for cooking Prawns or Crabs. These two ingredients brings out the best and compliments the sweetish delicate flesh of these food variety.

The best food memory of my first Goan visit was of the food eaten at my husbands uncle’s house, folks who are dear to me. Driving through the Goan roads on a motorbike, our unforgettable journey almost a decade back, we had stopped for lunch at Martin’s Corner, a famous restaurant. Going over the menu card I had ordered a dish named Prawn Balchao, I had never heard nor tasted this dish ever before. It was such a fiery spicy gravy that I could not enjoy it even though I loved the taste. I can never forget that lunch meal. The dish got registered in my mind from that moment, and I always carried the thought of making it someday. Fast forward to end of last month, me and my girlfriends visited a restaurant here and the menu card listed this dish and this was the second time I ate this fiery prawn dish, though this time requested the chef for a little mild preparation. And finally the day dawned and my thought of preparing this was realised  with the first attempt in my kitchen this week. I do wish that every prawn lover should give this dish at least one attempt to make and taste this. Let the dish tickle your taste buds at least once!!😂

INGREDIENTS:

Prawns: 600 gms (cleaned, deveined)

Onion: 2 Big (250-300 gm)

Kashmiri Red Chillies: 10-12 (Add couple more if you like it very hot and spicy)

Ginger: 2” piece

Garlic: 6 cloves

Cumin: 2 Tsp

Green Chillies: 3

Curry Leaves: few springs

Cooking Oil: 75 ml (a more would also do, depends on preference)

Vinegar: 1 &1/2 Tbsp

Turmeric: 1 Tsp

Salt: To taste.

METHOD:

Soak the red Kashmiri chillies in hot water for 10-15 min. This makes them soft and hence easy to grind.

Wash, clean, peel and devein the prawns.

Grind the red and green chillies with ginger, garlic and cumin in a grinder to get a fine paste. Use vinegar or little water if required to get the fine paste.This is our red masala that gives the fiery red colour to the dish. The number of red chillies can be increased if one prefers a very hot gravy.

Grind together soaked red chillies, ginger, garlic, cumin.
Grind together soaked red chillies, ginger, garlic, cumin.
The red chilli paste
The red chilli paste

Chop the onions very finely. Slit the green chillies thin. Finely chop 2 garlic cloves. Cut fine Julienne of a 1/2” ginger piece.

Heat a Kadai on the gas stove and add cooking oil to it. Add the green chillies, ginger, garlic, curry leaves to it. Then add the finely chopped onions and sauté on slow flame till the onions are golden brown in colour and nicely done.

Fry the ginger, garlic, curry leaves, onion in the oil.
Fry the ginger, garlic, curry leaves, onion in the oil.

While the onions are getting done, heat a frying pan with little oil and saute the prawns for couple of minutes till they turn reddish orange in colour and then remove in a plate.

Sauté the prawns till they change colour
Sauté the prawns till they change colour

Then add the red chilli paste, salt and turmeric to the onions and let the masala cook evenly till the sides leave oil.

Onion and red chilli masala
Onion and red chilli masala

Then add the lightly sautéed prawns to this gravy and let it simmer for 10-15 min so the prawns are evenly coated with the gravy.

Then add 1 Tbsp of vinegar to the gravy, mix and cook for another 5 min on slow flame and then remove from the stove into a serving bowl and garnish with finely chopped green chillies and fresh green coriander.

SERVING OPTIONS: This dish can be served with a bowl of steaming white rice and/or choicest Indian breads that you make at home. In my house we eat with piping hot phulkas (a type of Indian flat bread, recipe soon on the blog), and not to forget glasses of water for me😉!

Prawn Balchao from ashu's
Prawn Balchao from ashu’s

Note: This is the recipe I tried making that best resembled to what I had tasted last month in the restaurant.

Trust you all enjoyed going through the post as much as I enjoyed sharing my experience here. Keeping working out and enjoy all foods that tickle your taste buds. Happy Cooking.

ashu.

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