Bengali Shrimp Malai Curry

I have a confession to make.  I am a judgmental, picky–sometimes even bratty–eater.  I always have been.  If something looks funny, I might still try it; but I make no promises (ehhmm…pickles!).

Growing up, I had a list of foods I would absolutely refuse to eat.  The list included (but was not limited to): onions, shrimp (and other sea creatures), pickles, most vegetables and tomatoes (unless they were sauced, smashed, diced or in the form of ketchup.  I loved ketchup).

As I get older, I notice my taste-buds have evolved quite dramatically and most things on my list have been crossed off.  But, it wasn’t until I developed a love for Indian food (and a certain Indian…) that I began to appreciate onions, tomatoes, veggies…and shrimp.

Ok…If I’m being completely honest, I can’t say that I really enjoy shrimp (tolerate…yes.  enjoy…not so much.); but drowning the little, pink sea-creatures in a sauce of creamy curry sure makes it a whole lot easier.

Piyush, on the other hand, can’t get enough of the funky looking crustaceans and loves when I surprise him with a steaming bowl of shrimp curry.

This particular curry originates from West Bengal, India.  It has a base made from coconut milk, cardamom, cinnamon, and clove—things I love!

masala mix for shrimp malai curry

The flavor is semi-sweet; but has a little kick from the addition of the chili powder.

Bengali-Style Shrimp Malai Curry

(creamy shrimp curry)  Serves 4

  • 1 lb. large shrimp
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. oil–more, if needed
  • 3/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 7 cardamom pods
  • 5 medium-sized Indian bay leaves (I have used regular bay leaves, and those work fine as well)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, grated or about 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped or about 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • chili powder, to taste –i used about 1/4 tsp. of really spicy powder
  • 3/4 cup lite coconut milk
  • salt and pepper–to taste


  • Peel and de-vein the shrimp, leaving the tails intact–if you can.  I prefer to use wild-caught shrimp rather than farm raised, and unfortunately my store only had one option for wild-caught…so my shrimp had no tails.
  • Put the shrimp in a bowl, add the lemon juice, then toss them together and leave them sit for around 5 minutes.  Rinse the Shrimp under cold water and pat dry.
  • Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat and cook the onion until lightly browned.  Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, chili powder and paprika and cook until everything becomes fragrant and cooked through.  Grab your blender.
  • In a blender, combine the onion mixture and 1/2 c. coconut milk.  Blend until smooth and set aside.
  • In the same pan that you cooked the onions, add a little more oil.  Toss in the cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon.  Let the spices “fry” for about a minute.
  • Add the shrimp to the pan and cook until they begin to turn pink.  Once they’re almost cooked through, dump the contents of the blender into the pan.  Add 1/2 c. water into the blender and swish around–dump this into the pan too.  Stir everything so that all the shrimp are well coated.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  • Once the mixture is simmering, add the last 1/2 c. coconut milk.  Let curry simmer away for about 15 minutes–until the sauce has thickened.
  • Enjoy with rice or rotis!!!

Note:  You can skip the blender stage and leave everything “chunky”…the taste is the same (and it’s actually more authentic); but you won’t have that smooth, beautiful gravy.

Printer-Friendly Version

This curry can make a nice appetizer, too!

I served the curry with home-made pooris—which, unfortunately, my stomach can not tolerate.  It couldn’t in India, either…but I was hopeful.

My first attempt at making pooris—probably my last (for now).

We also ate our shrimp curry alongside a simple veg. curry.

Pure veg. curry –no cream, yogurt…nothin’ but veggies!

This curry is super easy; and is often my “go-to curry.”  I’ll get the recipe up here soon!


9 thoughts on “Bengali Shrimp Malai Curry

  1. thewindykitchen

    I was a bit skeptical about using shrimp in curry (I made the pumpkin curry from the Bon Appetit food cleanse), but it turned out very tasty! It took me a bit to warm up to the shrimp and I still find dishes in which I don’t like it, but I always enjoy it grilled. Can’t wait for the patio in my apartment building to open for the season!

  2. Shari Post author

    Pumpkin curry? sounds interesting. I know my mother-in-law makes some sort of pumpkin curry…but I believe it’s always strictly vegetarian. Shrimp would be a nice addition, I think!

    I can’t wait for your patio to open either!!! I always look forward to grilling!

    1. Shari Post author

      Jennifer, you should be able to buy cardamom pods at your local grocery store—but they will be very expensive! Instead, I recommend checking out an Asian/Indian market, the internet, or even a local co-op.

      I hope you are able to find some!!! 🙂

  3. M

    Your recipe blows mine away…. wow! About the only thing I do differently is to add cubed potatoes, carrots, and onions, sort of what my mom used to put into a pot roast. Sometimes I even skip the shrimp (and I LOVE shrimp)!

    1. Shari Post author

      That sounds really good too! My recipe is a pretty authentic Bengali Shrimp Malai curry, but there are a lot of times I swap ingredients or change the recipe according to what I have on hand (or what I’m craving). I might have to try adding veggies next time!

  4. Brandi

    Deelish looking and will give a try. I like to make my own cheese and will try my hand at paneer. Will look for dishes on your blog that has paneer!

  5. Pingback: Easy Indian Spiced Shrimp with Garlic and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce « My Fancy Pantry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s