Bengali prawns in a mild coconut gravy

Bengali prawns in a mild coconut gravy

Indian Food Made Easy
Vanessa Courtier

I love this dish. It has the heat and pungency of the green chillies but the actual spices provide the background flavours and are quite mild. It is a hugely popular dish from Bengal, based on the beautiful local tiger prawns. I use both coconut milk and cream as this dish has a rich coconut flavour that would normally be derived from grating and extracting thick and thin milks from fresh coconuts. However, for speed, I cheat and use shop-bought versions. If you wish, you can add a little extra milk and omit the cream altogether.


Quantity Ingredient
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into chunks
8g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cloves
6 green cardamom pods
2 large shards cinnamon
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5g garlic, peeled and made into a paste
3-6 green chillies, slit lengthwise but left whole
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 rounded teaspoon coriander powder
350-400ml coconut milk
salt, to taste
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
600g medium–large tiger prawns, shelled but with the tail left intact, deveined and cleaned
50g coconut cream, (optional)


  1. Blend the onions with the ginger to a fine paste. Grind together 2 cloves, 3 cardamom pods and 1 cinnamon shard in a pestle and mortar; set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan, add the remaining whole spices and fry for 20 seconds or until fragrant. Add the onion paste and fry over a low heat, stirring frequently, for 8–10 minutes until golden brown. It is important that the onions are cooked through.
  3. Add the garlic, chillies, turmeric, coriander powder and a splash of water and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the coconut milk, salt and sugar, bring to a boil, then simmer over a low heat for 3–4 minutes. Add the prawns and simmer for 2–3 minutes until cooked. Stir in the reserved ground spices and coconut cream, if using, and serve.
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