Malai Prawn (Creamy Prawn Curry)

Creamy prawn curry recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
499 Calories
31g Fat
16g Carbs
43g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 499
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 40%
Saturated Fat 20g 98%
Cholesterol 342mg 114%
Sodium 1016mg 44%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Protein 43g
Calcium 187mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This creamy prawn curry is a Bengali delicacy eaten with traditional jeera rice. Sometimes called chingri malaikari, or malai for short, it is eaten throughout India and around the world.

The prawns are cooked in a thick coconut milk gravy with whole spices for a strong, flavorful dish. You will find prawn malaikari as a part of the menu in many Bong (Bengali) parties in the U.S.

We highly recommend making this flavorful dish with the prawn heads on, as they add another dimension of seafood flavor to this already delectable preparation. If you are not used to preparing prawns and cleaning prawn heads, don't worry. You can still make a wonderful variation by shelling, deveining, and removing the heads of the prawns.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds large ​prawns (also called tiger prawns)
  • 2 large onions
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 green chilies
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons single cream
  • Garnish: fresh coriander leaves
  • For Serving: jeera or steamed rice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for creamy prawn curry
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  2. Carefully wash, shell, and devein the prawns, leaving the heads intact.

    Prepared prawns on a plate
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  3. Add the onions, tomatoes, and green chilies to a food processor and process to form a paste.

    Vegetable paste in a food processor
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  4. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and add the paste. Fry for a minute.

    Paste cooking in a pan with oil
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  5. Add the garlic paste and ginger paste and fry for another minute.

    Ginger and garlic paste added to the pan
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  6. Add the garam masala, coriander, and cumin and cook until the oil begins to separate from the mixture.

    Sauce mixture cooking in a pan
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  7. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste.

    Coconut milk added to mixture in a pan
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  8. Add the prawns and cook for another 2 minutes.

    Prawns added to curry sauce
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  9. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream.

    Prawn curry in a pan
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  10. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with jeera rice or plain boiled rice.

    Serve prawn curry
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 

Tips

  • If you cannot find prawns at your fish market, you can substitute with shrimp. Although technically not the same animal (shrimp live in saltwater while prawns dwell in freshwater), the two crustaceans are interchangeable in recipes as their taste is similar. Since this recipe calls for large prawns, make sure to substitute with larger sized shrimp.
  • Single cream is a common ingredient in the UK but not readily available in supermarkets in the United States. British single cream has about 18 percent fat while half-and-half runs between 10 and 18 percent and light cream is anywhere from 18 to 30 percent fat. Choosing either as a substitute for single cream should do the job. If you are looking to be a bit more precise, you can combine 4 parts half-and-half with 1 part heavy whipping cream.

Recipe Variation

  • One way to switch up the flavor in your prawn malai curry is by bringing a nutty component to the dish. Include a tablespoon of cashew paste as well as a 1/2 cup of freshly grated coconut. Add both just after putting the ginger and garlic pastes into the pan.