Goan Prawn Balchão

Bowl of prawn balchao next to bowl of rice.
Manu_Bahuguna / Getty Images
  • Total: 80 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
478 Calories
5g Fat
46g Carbs
66g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 478
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 500mg 167%
Sodium 1898mg 83%
Total Carbohydrate 46g 17%
Dietary Fiber 9g 31%
Protein 66g
Calcium 341mg 26%
*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-sized prawns (cleaned and deveined)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions (finely chopped)
  • 3 large tomatoes (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste or 7 to 10 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste or 1-inch piece of ginger (chopped)
  • 10 to 12 dried red chili peppers
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2-inch stick of cinnamon
  • 8 to 10 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Clean and devein the prawns. Put the prawns in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on them. Set them aside.

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

  3. 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.

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

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

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

  7. Add the prawns to this spice mixture, mix well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

  8. Serve with hot plain boiled rice.


  • 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.