Monday, June 9, 2014

The Blog's First Crustacean

চিংড়ি দোপিয়াজা
Dry Prawn Curry

Prawns served with rice

Bangladesh is quite conservative when it comes to food. Granted, I've heard rumours of frog-eating, but I've never actually seen someone serve it up anywhere in the country. Squid and shellfish have never been easily available locally - at least not in mainstream food markets and restaurants. And it is only recently that I've started to see curried crab served in restaurants, though even this is still limited to coastal regions. Somehow, running completely counter to this narrative is our country's love for prawns. We eat every variety: from the tiny ones ground into a paste, to the massive jumbo king prawns served at special occasions - legs and antennae included! 

I have to admit I very much share this affection towards prawns, and growing up they were amongst the few 'fish' I liked. Whenever my mom would try to make me skip meat and eat fish, this is what I would ask for. An argument about how prawns weren't real fish would ensue, and sadly I'd often have to settle for eating something like rui or ilishI have expanded my palate since, but prawns remain a favourite. As such I'm surprised it took me so long to try cooking this dish. As far as curries go, this is a very simple one. Prawns are hard to get wrong, and the result is usually a sweet, mildly fragrant curry despite the chilli I've used below. Apologies for the strangely varied pictures - they come from 3 separate occasions of (past) cooking! 


  • 150.00 g raw peeled prawns
  • 1 small onion
  • 1.00 tablespoon of garlic paste
  • 0.50 tablespoons of ginger paste
  • Turmeric powder, 3/4 teaspoon
  • Chili powder, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chopped coriander, a handful


  • Chop the onion and heat some oil in a non-stick saucepan
  • Fry the onions on medium heat till they go translucent
  • Add the garlic and ginger paste, followed by the turmeric and chilli

The onions just as they're done, with the spices being added

  • Mix the onion and spices thoroughly, and cook for at least 10 minutes 
  • Add small amounts of hot water to the saucepan now and again to prevent the mixture from drying out

The cooked spice mixture, transferred
to a new pot because of kitchen logistics.
Basically mom needed the saucepan
for something else.

  • Wash the prawns and add them to saucepan 
  • Mix the prawns and spices thoroughly, again adding hot water intermittently to prevent the dish from drying out completely 

Prawns being mixed with the spices

  • Add salt as desired and leave to cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add the chopped coriander, mix into the curry
  • Leave to cook for another 5 minutes and take off the heat
  • Serve with rice, polao or khichuri

Additional Information
The dryness of the curry is a personal preference. Feel free to add more or less water based on how much sauce you want. Bear in mind though that the more water you add, the thinner the sauce will become. Prawns are often cooked like this with aubergines and potatoes, which bulk up the dish. Add the potatoes straight after adding the spices, allowing everything to cook together for the 10 minute period. Add the aubergines (or any other vegetable you fancy - I've used green beans or courgettes too) at the same time as the prawn, allowing them to soften without turning to mush. 

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