Wishing you all a Happy Poila Boishakh ! 🙏🌸🏵🌱
Malaikari or malai curry is one of the most sought after dishes in bengali cuisine specifically prepared with big-size jumbo prawns (golda chingri). This mildly aromatic, rich, velvety curry is smooth and creamy in texture, perhaps this creaminess of the curry testify its name i.e. malaikari (malai means cream i.e. a cream based curry). However, there are debates regarding its name & origin as “malai” word is also thought to have originated from “malay” of Malaysia . It is assumed to have been introduced by the Malaysian traders in Bengal, who being coastal inhabitants make generous use of coconuts in their curries even though there are no such evidences of its journey from Malaysia to India. The key ingredient of this dish is coconut milk which may bear witness to the fact that the dish might have originated from any coastal region where coconut is amply available. Another interesting discord in this malaicurry pride is over their ghoti (west bengali) or Baangaal (east bengali) origin, the common discord over petty things post partition, for the origins of many stuff either on the eastern or western side of the indo-bangladesh border in Bengal. Though, by popular notion the malaikari or chingri malaikari is a Ghoti dish, yet baangaals will also not leave any leaf unturned to claim malaikari as theirs. As malaikari is usually prepared with chingri maachh or prawns which are considered a ghoti delicacy, and keeping the hilsa fish or ilish maach reserved for baangaals, this chingri maachher malaikari is believed to be a complete ghoti delicacy without any doubt. This cold war between ghotis and baangaals is omnipresent in the culinary world & is never ending, even though the fine line between the two is slowly blurring with both sides incorporating ingredients from each other in their cuisine.
Whatever may be the theories on its origin, we Bengalis always cherish the taste of this delectable curry and every bengali household have their own versions of the malaikari with minor changes in the ingredients except coconut milk, according to their preferences or in their style of cooking. Ghotis are known to add an extra punch of sweetness to every dish of theirs, while baangaals have a penchant to turn even a mild tasting dish into a hot and spicy one. The malaikari typically symbolizes the ghoti characterisitics of Bangla dishes. A hint of sweetness is what ghotis crave for and if that could be stopped, ghoti dishes are mellow, mildly flavoured & mildly spiced and that is what makes malaikari one of the classic and befitting dishes representing their gharana (lineage) which lets the main ingredient come out fully with all its flavours and aroma. Thus prawn malaikari allows the prawn to blend seamlessly with the gravy to give the dish its uniquely rich taste that it has.
On this Poila Boishakh (Bengali new years day), I thought of sharing with you the essence of malaikari with Rohu fish rather than prawns for trying something different. Rui maacher (Rohu fish) malaikari is also quite popular nowadays and sometimes serves as an alternative to its prawn counterpart for special occasions. I prepared this malakari with fish koftas instead of cut pieces or slices of fish with addition of spices like chaat masala in the koftas & aamchoor powder in the gravy, which are usually not used in malaikari. Since this is rohu fish, you may try it with these spices & the end result will just be yum. So try out this recipe on any of your special occasions & please do share your experience in the comments section below. Now jump to the recipe.🔽
Ingredients : –
A. For Kofta :
- Rohu (Rui) fish – 300 gm approximately : 300 -350 g
- Garlic paste – 1 clove.
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp.
- Red Chilli powder -1/2 tsp.
- Onion paste – 1 big.
- Onion (chopped)- 1 big.
- Ginger paste – ½ tsp.
- Chaat masala – ½ tsp.
- Mustard Oil (for frying) – 2-3 tbsp.
- Salt – to taste
- Sugar – 1/4th tsp.
- Refined Flour – 2 tsp.
B. For Malaikari gravy :
- Coconut milk (canned or freshly squeezed) – 1½ or 2 cups.
- Onion paste – 2 medium sized.
- Onion (finely chopped) – 1 small or medium sized.
- Garlic – 1 clove.
- Ginger – 1 inch piece.
- Green chillies – 6 to 8 or as per need (4 as paste and 4 whole)
- Coriander Powder – ½ tsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
- Red chilli powder – ½ to 1 tsp
- Aamchur powder (optional)
- Garam masala powder ( 1 cinnamon stick + 4 cardamom + ½ clove ground together to smooth powder).
For tempering :
- Dry Red Chilli – 2.
- Cardamom – 4.
- Cinnamon – 1 to 2 pieces
- Clove – 1 to 2.
- Cumin Seeds – ¼ tsp.
- Bay Leaves – 2.
- Mustard Oil – 2 to 3 tbsp.
For making Kofta :
- Cut the fish into pieces, wash and clean them.
- Sprinkle little salt & turmeric and keep aside.
- Heat oil in a pan over medium flame & fry the pieces by turning both sides till they turn slightly golden brown in colour.
- Bring down from the flame on a dish or tray.
- Now break the pieces to debone them using your fingers. (Note : Preferably use large size fish, that can be easily separated from the bones)
- Break the fish into a scramble.
- In a large bowl, take the scrambled fish, add all the ingredients (onion paste, chopped onion, garlic & ginger paste, turmeric & red chilli powder, chaat masala, salt & sugar) & mix.
- Add refined flour, mix well & take small portions of this mixture to make small balls or kofta(s).
- Now heat oil in a pan or kadhai and deep fry the kofta(s)over a medium flame till they turn golden brown.
- Spread over a tray. Your Koftas are now ready to go for the next step. Meanwhile, you can munch on one or two😉, as they are equally enjoyable in this stage as well.
For gravy of the malaikari :
- In a blender take 2 onions, garlic, ginger, 4 green chillies, coriander and cumin powder and blend them together to make a smooth paste.
- Now, heat oil in a pan or kadhai, add dry red chillies & saute over a medium flame, till they turn dark.
- Add bay leaves, cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon stick & cloves and let them splatter.
- Add chopped onions & saute until the onions turn golden brown.
- Add the ground paste made previously & saute the mixture.
- Add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, aamchoor powder & a little garam masala powder and mix well.
- Add salt & sugar, mix and saute the mixture over medium flame till the oil starts separating from the mixture.
- Add coconut milk, mix well, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add water for the desired consistency. The gravy should be thick & creamy, so do not add too much of water. Otherwise, it will turn runny.
- Add the fried koftas one by one carefully to avoid breaking of the koftas.
- Sprinkle the remaining garam masala powder, cover & let it cook for another 1 or 2 minutes by keeping the flame on low flame or simmer. (Note : Do not overcook as the koftas may disintegrate).
- Switch off the flame; your kofta malai curry is now ready to be served.
- Serve with fresh steamed rice or plain pulao and enjoy its palate. And do remember to share your experience in comments.🙂