Goan Prawn Balchão

Goan Prawn Balchão

The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
273 Calories
19g Fat
23g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 273
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 25%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 441mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 25mg 123%
Calcium 68mg 5%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 538mg 11%
*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.)

Prawn balchão is a fiery dish from Goa (located in coastal western India) that is almost like a pickle. Do as the Goans do and serve it with hot plain boiled rice. The cuisine of the Goan region is heavily based on their abundant seafood, with influences from Hindu, Muslim, and Portuguese cultures.

This prawn pickle will keep in the refrigerator for several days, so it is something you can make ahead and have on hand for guests or for meals later in the week.


  • 2 pounds small to medium prawns, cleaned and deveined

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 large onions, finely chopped

  • 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste, or 7 to 10 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste, or 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

  • 10 to 12 small dried red chile peppers

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 2-inch stick cinnamon

  • 8 to 10 whole cloves

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/2 cup vinegar

  • Salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Goan Prawn Balchão ingredients

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  2. Put the prawns in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on them. Set them aside.

    Put the prawns in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on them

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  3. Using a dry pan over medium heat, toast the dried red chiles, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, and cinnamon until they begin to release their aroma. Take off from the heat and cool.

    spices in a pan

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  4. Grind the ginger, garlic, and toasted spices into a smooth paste using the vinegar. You can do this with a small food processor or a mortar and pestle.

    seasoning paste in a bowl

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  5. Heat the oil on a medium flame in a wok-style pan or similar pan. Add the prawns and stir fry until opaque. Remove from the pan and set them aside.

    shrimp cooking in a wok

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  6. In the same pan, fry the onions until they are light brown. Add the tomato and fry until soft.

    onions, tomatoes and spices in a pan

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  7. Now add the spice-vinegar paste, sugar, and salt to taste. Fry until the oil begins to separate from the spice mixture.

    add spice paste and sugar to the onion mixture in the pan

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  8. Add the prawns to this spice mixture, mix well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with hot basmati rice.

    Goan Prawn Balchão cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo


  • You can enjoy this prawn pickle immediately or refrigerate it to enjoy the next day, after all of the spices mingle and blossom. It can keep for a long time in the refrigerator, so if you can resist eating it all at once, you can enjoy it with meals for days to come.
  • You can adjust the amount of heat in this dish by varying the amount of the red chilies, which is the only hot spicy element. If you have a source of fresh curry leaves, add a few of them with the tomatoes to fry with the onions. They add a wonderful pungent element.