Malai Prawn (Creamy Prawn Curry)

Creamy prawn curry recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
474 Calories
31g Fat
27g Carbs
26g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 474
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 40%
Saturated Fat 17g 87%
Cholesterol 199mg 66%
Sodium 1146mg 50%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 26g
Vitamin C 37mg 187%
Calcium 149mg 11%
Iron 4mg 23%
Potassium 762mg 16%
*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.


  • 2 pounds large ​prawns, or tiger prawns

  • 2 large onions

  • 3 medium tomatoes

  • 2 green chiles

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste

  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste

  • 1 tablespoon garam masala

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 2 cups coconut milk

  • Salt, to taste

  • 3 tablespoons single cream

  • Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish

  • Jeera, or steamed rice, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for creamy prawn curry
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  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 chiles to a food processor and process to form a paste.

    Vegetable paste in a food processor
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  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
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  5. Add the garlic paste and ginger paste and then 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 steamed rice.

    Serve prawn curry
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 


  • If you cannot find prawns at your fish market, you can substitute them with shrimp. Although technically not the same animal, 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 U.K. but not readily available in supermarkets in the United States. British single cream has about 18 percent fat, while half-and-half runs from 10 to 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.

What's the difference between prawns and shrimp?

Prawns and shrimp, although used interchangeably in recipes, are two different animals; prawns are in the suborder of Dendrobranchiata and shrimp are the suborder of Pleocyemata. There are other differences, such as their body structures—prawns are straight, while shrimp have a curvature to them; the size, placement of their pinchers and legs also help to differentiate them.