Shrimp with a quick, luscious creamy sauce, and a hit of mustard. A must weeknight main meal that you can whip up at a moments notice using shrimp you have tucked up in the freezer.

Beloved Shrimp Curry

Nothing gets between a Bengali and their seafood. West Bengal is a coastal city, home to many beloved seafood curries. One of the most popular is called “chingri posto,” whose distinctive ingredients are mustard oil, white poppy seeds, and onion seeds (kalonji). This flavor marriage is a heavenly, enticing flavor bomb and mild on the heat scale.

No Special Ingredients

You can also make this dish without a trip to an Indian grocery. I have made Bengali prawn curry with my favorite oil, cashews, and sesame seeds and loved every bite. If you are feeling adventurous, use the more traditional ingredients. You will be delighted with the new flavors and how quickly it comes together. White poppy seeds, cashews, or skinless almonds are ground to a fine powder to create a lovely thick sauce.  Flavored with onion, a hit of mustard, and a bit of green chili, this masala will transform your weeknight cooking rotation.

About Mustard Oil

Mustard oil is used frequently in Bengali cooking. This pungent, flavorful oil has created controversy in the West due to its erucic acid content. Thus leading to the labeling in the U.S. market “for external use only.” However, there are purportedly many health benefits from consuming mustard oil, and Indian cooks have been using it for centuries to no ill effect. Even American chefs have fallen in love with this piquant oil. For an interesting article on the subject, read Indrani Sen’s New York Times’s article called “American Chefs Discover Mustard Oil.”

Happy Cooking!

~ Alonna

Oh, and by the way—This recipe is one of the top 20 dishes that are Indian favorites. Take a look!

See the Notes below before you cook.

Bengali Prawn Curry (Chingri Posto) Served in a beautiful gold and blue dish with rice and lime on the side.

Bengali Prawn Curry (Chingri Posto)

Shrimp with a quick, luscious creamy sauce, and a hit of mustard. A must weeknight main meal that you can whip up at a moments notice using shrimp you have tucked up in the freezer.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Bengali, Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Low Carb, Non-vegetarian, North Indian, Seafood, Stovetop, Weeknight
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Marinating: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 182kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds medium to large shrimp ~ Or prawns, with tails on, if you like the look
  • 1 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ Substitutions
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri ground red chili ~ Or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, to your taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, optional ~ See 2nd Note
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews ~ Or white poppy seeds, or skinless almonds. See 3rd Note.
  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil ~ Or oil of your choice
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard ~ Only if you did not use mustard oil
  • 3/4 cup onions ~ Finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon onion seeds (kalonji seeds) ~ Or sesame seeds
  • 2 small green chilies ~ 1 teaspoon, or to your taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar ~ Only if using white poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard oil ~ Optional, for a final drizzle

Instructions

  • Gather all your ingredients.
    Bengali Prawn Curry (Chringri Posto) - All the ingredients gathered.
  • If you haven’t purchased cleaned shrimp, clean and remove the heads. Leave the tails on, if you wish.
  • In a bowl large enough to hold the shrimp, mix the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of Kashmiri ground red chili pepper, turmeric, and baking soda (if using, see note 2). Add the shrimp and mix well to coat. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, up to an hour.
    Bengali Prawn Curry (Chringri Posto) - The large shrimp cleaned and ready to be cooked.
  • Using a spice grinder, or mortar and pestle, grind the cashews (poppy seeds or almonds) to a fine powder. Strain through a sieve to remove any larger pieces to run through the grinder again and sieve.
    Bengali Prawn Curry (Chringri Posto) Coconut ground to a fine powder to enrich the masala.
  • In a large pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat the oil before adding the shrimp. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp), or just until they start to turn pink. Do not overcook because they will be simmered in the masala before serving. Remove from the pan and set aside.
    Bengali Prawn Curry (Chringri Posto) The shrimp finished cooking in a large dutch oven.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and add another tablespoon of oil and the onion seeds or sesame seeds, if using. Let them crackle for a few seconds, then immediately add the onions.  Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until they have turned translucent and golden around the edges. Add a tablespoon or two of water if the onions begin to stick.
  • Add the minced green chilies, ground cashews (white poppy seeds or almonds), and 1/4 cup water. If you are not using mustard oil, add Dijon mustard now.
    Bengali Prawn Curry (Chringri Posto) The aromatics cooked and the coconut ready to be stirred in.
  • Sauté for 5 to 8 minutes to cook the spices, until the paste turns a golden brown and the oil begins to separate. IMPORTANT: If using cashew paste this step will only take 2 to 3 minutes!
    Bengali Prawn Curry (Chringri Posto) The masala all mixed in together and ready to get friendly.
  • Add 1/2 cup water, and sugar (if you used poppy seeds). Bring to a boil and add the shrimp and any juices that have been released. Stir gently but thoroughly. 
    Bengali Prawn Curry (Chringri Posto) The shrimp masala finished and ready to be dished into a serving bowl.
  • Cover and simmer on very low heat for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to come together, the shrimp to finish cooking, and the sauce to thicken. This is a dry curry, with the sauce clinging to the shrimp, however, add additional water now, depending on how saucy you want your masala.
  • Finish by drizzling one teaspoon of mustard oil, if you wish. If you used Dijion mustard instead of mustard oil, your dish may need another bit of mustard and an additional sprinkle or two of salt. Serve with rice, a simple dal, or both.
    Bengali Prawn Curry (Chingri Posto) Served in a beautiful gold and blue dish with rice and lime on the side.

Notes

  • Leave the tails on the shrimp for a nice look, if you prefer.
  • Using a bit of baking soda in the shrimp marinade helps give a snappier, more pleasant texture, but this is completely optional.
  • Chingri posto normally uses white poppy seeds to thicken the sauce. They are harder to find and I like the flavor of the sauce better with ground cashews. If you want to try cooking with poppy seeds, you must use the white variety; the more easily found blue variety tastes different and does not make a good substitution for the white ones. Besides cashews, another good option is skinless almonds.
  • This dish often includes fried cubes of potatoes, which I have omitted to streamline the recipe.
  • Bengali prawn curry is a dry curry. For my version, I’ve added slightly more water so that the dish has a bit of creamy sauce. You get to choose how saucy you want your shrimp masala.
  • Bengali Prawn Curry (Chingri Posto) is one of the Top 20 Dishes in India, enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 182kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 80mg | Potassium: 150mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg
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