Saturday, 18 May 2013

Daab Chingri (Tender Coconut Prawns) - Pressure Cooker Method

Chingri (Prawns) and Ilish Mach (Hilsa Fish) are both candidates for any festive occasion in a Bengali household. Chingri is more versatile and is used in the mundane dishes like lau ghonto (bottle gourd medley), echorer torkari (raw jack fruit curry) or the more ornamental Chingrir malaikari. Now-a-days you don't get to see the actual jumbo prawns which we can find mentioned in many Bengali classics. Its more of  medium sized prawns being passed off as jumbo prawns at double price. I remember the last time I had real "jumbo" prawns was almost 20 odd years back in Taki at my Mashi's (aunt) house. It was a warm afternoon and the floor mat was placed along the balcony of the apartment, the typical arrangement for "paat pede khawa". We all kids sat down in a row and were served yummy "golda" (jumbo) chingri and steamed rice. The head of each prawn was almost the size of an adult's  palm. That was the last time I had truly relished a prawn dish.

My mom and dad both had shell fish allergy so whenever prawns was cooked at our household it was just for me and the recipe was the traditional dish with onion, coriander and jeera seasoning.I was super happy with that only and so was my pet cat who always sat by me during my meals for getting tid bits. As I grew slowly the shell fish allergy reduced for ma. But the funny part is that post my marriage I came to know that my hubby also suffers from the same allergy. But still he gorges on shell fishes and later on has some cetrizine to bring down the itching feeling. That was a good thing as I wanted to experiment with prawns. Chingrir malaikari always turned out as a safer bet than daab chingri as it involves actual cooking in the wok so one knows when to adjust the taste if something goes amiss. Daab chingri involves a lot less efforts but if the proportion and steaming are not proper it can be a total failure at the end. And perfection would only come with practice. The tender coconut imparts and subtle and distinct flavor to the dish. The number of spices used for this recipe is so less that it would suit any palate. The soft and creamy gravy makes up for some lip smacking experience. Check out the following simple recipe of Daab Chingri below.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Cuisine: Bengali

  • Prawns (Medium or Big with tails) - 500 gm
  • Tender Coconut Pulp-  1 Small Bowl (200gm)
  • Onion- 1medium (chopped)
  • Ginger - 2" piece
  • Garlic clove - 6-7
  • Cardamom - 2
  • Clove - 2
  • Cinnamon - 1" piece
  • Green Chilli - 2 ( or depending upon the heat level you can handle)
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Mustard Oil - 4-5 tbsp
  • Sunrise Mustard Powder - 2 tsp / Mustard Seeds - 3 tsp (soaked and made to a paste)


1. Take a big tender coconut and cut the top. Scoop out the pulp with the help of a spoon and mash it uniformly.

For this recipe a tender coconut whose pulp is not too soft should be used because otherwise on cooking the pulp will totally melt and become undetectable. I usually use the pulp which is a bit thickened. Then use the mixer to coarsely grate it into a uniform pulp. From the nutritional fact per say the half mature coconut has more carbohydrate, protein, minerals, phosphorus, vitamins A,B, C than the complete tender coconut and the mature one. 
2. For this recipe to turn out correctly one would need medium to big size prawns. De-vein them, remove the head and keep the tails intact (again this is a personal preference to keep the tails)

3. I use the Sunrise Mustard powder to make the mustard paste. Just add 2 tea spoon Sunrise mustard powder to 2 tablespoon water and make a thick paste. Make this paste at least 10 minutes before you need to add it to the cooking.

For those who dont have the mustard powder, you can make a paste from mustard seeds.

4. Grind onion to a thick paste.

5. Make a paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies in a blender.

6. Grind the spices (cardamom, clove, cinnamon) coarsely using a mortar-pestle

7. Heat oil in a deep bottomed  frying pan. When the oil is hot enough toss in the ground spices.

8. When the oil is fragrant add the onion paste and ginger garlic paste. Add 2-3 slitted green chillies if you wish to. Fold everything and cook till the mixture turns a shade of golden brown. Cook on medium flame.

9. Once the mixture is done add the prawns and tender coconut paste. Cook fro a couple of minutes. Add a little water if required. Adjust the salt and sugar level according to taste.

10. Transfer the contents to a steel bowl, see that the contents are not coming out of the bowl. Drizzle 2 tsp of mustard oil on top. The bowl size should be so that you can easily put and take out the bowl from the cooker.

11. Keep a 5 litre cooker ready. Add 400 ml water to the cooker. ( check the water level it should be less than the bowl size you are going to put your daab chingri to cook)

12. Carefully place the steel bowl with the contents into the water bath of the cooker.  Close the lid and put it to cook on medium flame.

13. Cook till one whistle and wait for the pressure to die down before opening the lid.

14. Ideally it should be done at this stage and oil should float up. But if you still feel that the spices are not cooked enough, you may take it out in the frying pan and cook on medium flame for about 5 minutes. The dish will definitely be ready by now which will be evident from the aroma.

Serve the daab chingri inside a coconut shell or simply on the plate with steaming hot rice.

Sending this recipe to Priya's and Spicy Treat's "Diwali Delicacy" event,


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