Bengali Prawn Mustard and Coconut Curry (Chingri Malaikari) – every bite of this with steamed basmati rice, the creaminess of the fresh coconut, the mellow mustard magic, and juicy prawns, makes it very VERY easy to love.
I still remember my first experience of Bengali cuisine – Aunty B, our neighbor back home in Goa was from Calcutta and her cooking was legendary. I’d always sneak up to theirs around meal-times and watch her cook. At that impressionable age, I was in awe of the differences between my mum’s and her style of cooking, in spite of the fact many of the same ingredients were used. The way her Luchi and Aloo was nothing like my mum’s Poori Bhaji, her chicken curry with potatoes, the use of the potent mustard oil, that we’d never even stock in our kitchen. Tasting her food introduced me to the variety that one could find across Indian cuisine and was my first lesson on regional diversity.
It was then I really fell in love with all the flavors and unique twists of Bengali food – all of the times our families spent together, she’d make me something new. And my young taste buds embraced the variety.
So much time has passed since we lived in the same city as Aunty B, I find myself trying to recreate the flavors, never quite as authentic, never quite with the same touch as her. I long to be in her kitchen with her again, still watching, learning and eating.
It was all these memories that made me crave a touch of Bengal in my kitchen. Of course, it has Goan influence, a blend of the familiar and the novel for me. This recipe is the best of both of worlds – sort of like an introduction to bold Bengali flavors for the uninitiated. It is my ode to Aunty B, the memories of her and her food that I hold so dear, among the culinary heroes that I look up to. Every bite of this curry, the creaminess of the fresh coconut, the mellow mustard magic, and juicy prawns, make it very easy to love.