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MegaChef Chingri Malai Curry

Chingri Malai Curry is essentially large prawn’s cooked in a cashew nut masala and coconut milk…

Chingri Malai Curry is essentially large prawn’s cooked in a cashew nut masala and coconut milk, even though Chingri Malali actually means small prawns cooked in cream…

I got the idea for this recipe from my favourite Indian cookbook ‘Floyd’s India’. Keith Floyd was my first real inspiration in cooking (apart from my wife). He was without doubt as rock n’ roll as TV chefs got in the 90’s and still to this day really. His recipes (from all his books) are full of flare and passion whilst being a bit slapdash, which makes for great cooking every time. The slapdash bit conveniently disposes of all that Michelin Star finesse that we, the amateur masses, don’t really possess or indeed need, just ask Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, Nigella Lawson, James Martin, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and so on.

As with all of my recipes, I have cooked this dish many times and with each attempt, refined and tweaked the recipe for the better. This is the last version I made and it was glorious.

  • 20 large raw prawns (tiger or king will do nicely), shells not required.
  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower Oil
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A 400ml tin of coconut milk (half fat is better and makes for a slightly less rich affair).
  • Salt to taste (about a teaspoon)

The Masala

  • 2 medium sized red onions, peeled, chopped, boiled (for 10 minutes), drained and then pureed in a blender.
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded, chopped, boiled drained and pureed with the onions.
  • 1 decent size (8cm+) red chilli (deseeded) and finely chopped (or 2 chillis for a bit more heat if desired)
  • 2.5cm/1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and blended.
  • 3 good size garlic cloves, peeled and blended. (When I say good size garlic cloves, I mean try to avoid those silly little excuses for garlic that most supermarkets unfortunately sell. Original Indian, French etc recipes cater for garlic usually classed as Elephant garlic these days, like a tennis ball. So if your garlic bulb is the sad size of squash ball, double the amount of cloves).
  • 1/3 cup of unsalted cashew nuts (if salted, just leave to soak in a cup of milk for 20 minutes and discard the milk when done). Puree in a blender with a dash of sunflower oil.
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric

The Rice

  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower Oil
  • 200ml of Basmati Rice
  • 400ml of boiling water
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • A clean tea-towel

So Here's What To Do

To prepare the prawns, remove the long black intestinal vein that runs down the back of the prawn, as this is rather like a politician, full of shit.

Prepare the masala ingredients and then mix them all together. Heat the oil in a good size, suitable pan (lid not required). Add the cardamom pods and bay leaves and fry until they start to crackle, then add the masala and stir for 5 minutes.

Lower to a medium heat and add the coconut milk, a bit a time. Mix well and add the salt, stir for another 10 minutes. If for some reason the mixture gets a little stodgy, add a bit of single cream or even some milk. Leave to rest, while you make the perfect rice and have another drink, maybe change the music.

For the perfect rice, heat a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a good size pan, nice at hot. Add the rice and stir in the oil. Then add the boiling water (it should make a fun noise if your pan is hot enough), add the salt, stir in, cover and lower the heat to simmer-mode for 15 minutes – do NOT remove the lid or stir in this time. After 15 miuntes, remove from the hob, remove the lid, don’t stir it or anything and cover with the tea-towel for 10 minutes – how easy is that but bare in mind that it takes 25 minutes in total, but the last 10 minutes of standing time is perfect to reheat the curry and cook the prawns as follows.

Raise the heat up again, get the mixture to almost bubbling point and add the prawns. They should turn in colour pretty quickish and will be ready in around 4 minutes. Serve immediately garnished with a handful of fresh chopped coriander.

As with all curries, I recommend always having a pot of Yeo Valley Natural Pro-biotic yogurt (or similar) ready as a side dish, to temper any unexpected heat from the chillis and ginger.

Naan bread – don’t buy cheap ones as they break in half before you’ve even got home. Sharwood’s are totally fine. I like plain and just bung them in the toaster for 5 minutes and the mini naan’s work even better with this method.

Best served with: 

Generally with my curries, I like a decent Cru Beaujolais (eg. Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Brouilly etc) which are light to medium-bodied, fruity and silky, complimenting curries perfectly and £10 or even less, will buy a nice quaffable bottle. Or maybe a cheeky silky Burgundy – Majestic Wine probably have the best range of Burgundies for under £15 in the UK, especially the Volnay 2008 Labouré-Roi at £11.99. Tesco’s Finest Burgundy at £6.99 is easily absorbed with a curry and Waitrose have a few under £12 too, the Louis Latour 2007 at £9.99 being perfect.

The theory of drinking white wine with ‘fish’ is absolutely fine, especially cleanly baked cod with new potatoes and asparagus. But ‘fish’ cooked like this, is just as good with the smooth reds above, in fact better IMO. The theory of drinking lager with curry, rice and naan bread is all wrong. Yes, after 8 pints of lager a curry seems like a good idea and yes, one more Kingfisher or Cobra won’t hurt, but even out on the town, I still like to see the wine list (which is usually a short read…), because the right wine really does enhance a well-made curry.

And Remember, Don’t Forget About Stuff!

We’ve all got to the last prawn and suddenly remembered the Naan’s still left in the toaster, the coriander still chopped up on the excellent Megachef boardcaster or even forgetting to record Match Of The Day because the ruby and wine is so damn good!

  • 2 Naan Bread (Sharwoods normal size or 4 mini Naans)
  • 8 Poppadoms, Sharwoods ready to eat are perfect and add some crunch
  • A handful of fresh coriander, washed and roughly chopped
  • 450ml of Yeo Valley Natural Pro-biotic yogurt (or similar)

PS. Timers are excellent. Have at least two for all cooking!!!

Cooking time: 
Takes about 30 minutes or even longer if you prefer
Preparation time: 
Around 30 minutes