The lockdown period has taught us a lot and in my case good things. I read the books again which I used to read as a kid. I talked to a lot of people whom I should have contacted earlier to say "thanks for being with me all these years". Amongst other things, It helped me to revisit the delicacies we used to eat years back and ignored in the recent past. Today I think twice before making a decision about purchasing anything and everything. Talking about food and cooking to be specific, I don't remember eating Chingri Mathar Kalia in recent times. Yes, I am not talking about the typical prawn curry but a curry cooked with prawn heads. Neither I remember making two dishes using parts of a few prawns, curry with the head, and chingri malaikari with the flesh.
Chingri Macher Kalia, a substitute for the Sunday's Mangshor Jhol
Chingri Mathar Kalia used to be a family favorite when we were part of a joint family. The prawn head was available back then at a low cost. It was easy to purchase those to make the Sunday lunch special, especially at the end of the month. It was not possible to arrange meat or supreme fish every Sunday. The kids, though, had an expectation of something special. We always got the special without compromising the budget. Chicngri Mathar Kalia is just an example. I can remember Chingrir Jhal, Khosha Bhaja, Mamlet-er torkari, Aam bhate, Paka Potol Bhate/ Bata, and also Mangshor jhol with less mangsho, and more potatoes and many more. I must mention, in recent years life was different, easy maybe and both of us forgot things we used to follow while growing up in our respective homes.
Managing a middle-class Bengali joint family!
We had an eighteen membered family till 2003. The monthly grocery management followed by menu planning and to serve food on time to everyone and most importantly to manage everything within a budget considering all the bread earner's financial condition was a tough job. Not all the earners were having equal financial conditions yet we were a joint unity. The kids were all to follow a similar set of rules, to eat similar food, and most importantly to live similar lives irrespective of the financial condition of the respective parents. The family separated in 2003 and we witnessed changes. I remember superior rice being purchased or changes in the menu. However, I don't remember having Chingrir matha being cooked instead of the flesh or frequent serving of khosha bhaja after that.
I, though, left home in 2005 for higher study, followed by a job, and finally to build my abode with Mehebub. However, I never heard Maa talking about the dishes including chingri mathar kalia which used to be our Sunday's Mangshor Jhol substitute! I heard that in the nuclear system they don't cook those anymore at our Amherst street residence! I realized things have changed.
Utilizing the kitchen garden!
I and Mehebub talked a lot during the lockdown days and introduced a few things at home which were common in our respective homes while growing up. On his part, though not from a joint family but from a humble background for sure. He studied in Ramakrishna Mission and my FIL was a railway engineer. Needless to say, Mehebub had a restricted hostel life and is way more controlled. We have started introducing Pasta to all the good things we as kids learned. She is gladly accepting the changes we introduced at home. We have started growing flowers and veggies on our balcony and window garden just the way Mehebub's mother does it in Dubrajpur. Pasta is responsible for watering the plants and also to fill the bird feeder whenever it is empty.
Let's go back to the Prawn head curry!
Coming back to the prawn head curry, a few days back a friend, Ipsita posted pictures of Chingri matha bhaja on Facebook. I found that really interesting and while talking I took the reference of the Chingri Mathar Kalia. The discussion though was over, the craving was not. I asked Mehebub to pick a few prawn heads. We found that these days it is difficult to get only prawn heads in the market. Needless to say, we purchased the whole prawns and got the heads separated. I used the cleaned prawn (without head) to make malaikari the day before and the heads turned into Chicngri macher mathar kalia last Sunday. It was good the have the mangshor jhol substitute again.
Maa's "Tipponi" on Chingrir Mathar Rosha!
I talked to Maa before cooking the Mathar Kalia. Maa told me that they used to call it Chingri Mathar Rosha at her maternal home (my mamar bari) though the recipe was almost the same. Big fat Golda Chingrir Matha ( head of freshwater jumbo prawns) with limited spices and potato chunks. Maa specifically emphasized using fewer spices to not make the curry spice-heavy. She told me that the Prawn heat itself is enough to make the curry flavorful. That is the reason in the recipe you will not see me using cumin powder or coriander powder. Even the garam masala was not added at the end to enhance the flavor instead it was added while cooking. In a way, this is a family recipe, though not an heirloom.
Here's how I cook Chingri Mathar Kalia at Debjanir Rannaghar!Print
Chingri Mathar Kalia is a spicy Bengali-style Seafood curry cooked with prawn head along with potato chunks.
- 10 Prawn Head ( head of the jumbo prawns, cleaned)
- 3 Potato
- 4 Tbsp. Onion Paste
- 1 Tbsp. Ginger Paste
- 1 Tbsp. Garlic Paste
- 2 Green Chilli
- 2 Bay Leaf
- 2 Dry Red Chilli
- 4 Green Cardamom
- 1 Tsp. Turmeric Powder
- 1 Tsp. Red Chilli Powder
- 1 Tsp. Bengali Garam Masala Powder
- 1.5 Tsp. Salt or to taste
- 1 Tbsp. Sugar
- 2 Tbsp. Mustard Oil
- 1 Tbsp. Ghee
- Marinate cleaned prawn heads with ¼ Tsp. each of Turmeric Powder, Red Chilli Powder, and also salt. Give those a standing time of 15 minutes before frying.
- Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into halves.
- Heat Mustard oil in a pan till the color changes.
- Sprinkle ⅛ Tsp. each of Turmeric Powder, Red Chilli Powder, and also salt and mix.
- This is a trick to give the curry amazing red color.
- Now fry the potatoes on low flame and strain from the pan.
- In the remaining oil fry the prawn heads. Depending on the diameter of the pan, 2-3 heads can be fried in one go.
- Keep the flame on the lower side while frying the prawn heads. While frying whole prawns (mainly the flesh) for a long lead to chewy prawns, in the case of only prawn head the result is different. It is better to fry the prawn heads at least for 5 minutes for better flavor.
- Once fried, strain the fried prawn heads from the pan.
- The oil by then will be infused with the flavors of prawn head which will ultimately make the curry flavorful.
- Temper the remaining oil in the pan with Bay Leaf, Dry Red Chilli, and also Small Cardamom.
- Add Onion paste and cook till the onion turns brownish.
- Now add ginger paste, garlic paste, and also tomato paste and cook till the raw aroma goes.
- Add Green chili at this point and cook till oil comes out from the mixture.
- Now add the remaining Turmeric Powder, Red Chilli Powder, Salt to taste, and also Bengali Garam Masala Powder and also Sugar.
- The garam masala in this recipe is not added at the end and this is to restrict the dominating flavor of garam masala.
- Cook on low flame for around five minutes and then add fried potatoes and mix.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes on low flame.
- Add 2 Cup of water and cover the pan with a lid.
- Cook till the potatoes are 80% well-cooked.
- Add the fried prawn heads and cook till the potatoes are completely cooked.
- Once done, add ghee and give a light mix.
- Serve it hot pulao, rice, luchi, or roti.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Category: Seafood
- Method: cooking
- Cuisine: Bengali
- Serving Size: 125g
- Calories: 307
- Sugar: 5.8g
- Sodium: 2364mg
- Fat: 9.8g
- Saturated Fat: 2.7g
- Carbohydrates: 28.1g
- Fiber: 4.1g
- Protein: 26.9g
- Cholesterol: 228mg
Keywords: PRawn curry, Chingri curry, Prawn head curry, jumbo prawn head curry, debjanir rannaghar
Recipes I adopted from the kitchen of a Bengali joint family!
- Pui Chingri Ghonto (also known as Malabar Spinach Mishmash with Prawns, Potato and Pumpkin)
- Potol Bata (also known as Potol Bhate)
- Aloo Chingrir Shorshe Bata Diye Jhal (also known as Mustard based curry with Prawn and Potato Wedges)
- Lau ar Aloo er Khosa Bhaja (also known as Stir-Fried Bottle Gourd and Potato Skin/ Peel)
- Doodh Sooji (also known as Mohanbhog aka Suji)
- Paneer er Dalna (also known as Niramish Paneer Er Torkari)
- Kolar Bora (also known as Bengali Banana Fritters)
- Mulo Diye Motor Dal (also known as Bengali Yellow Split Pea with Radish)
- Chingri Bati Chorchori (also known as Chingri Macher Batichorchori)
- Begun Borir Ambol (also known as Bori Beguner Ambol
- Nimki Makha (Also known as Bengali nimki chaat)
- Dimer Dalna (also known as Bengali Egg Curry with Potato)
- Neem Begun (also known as Stir-fried Neem leaves and Eggplant)
- Phulkopir Roast (also known as Bengali Roasted Cauliflower!)
- Batabi Lebu Makha (also known as Jambura Bhorta or Pomelo Salad)
- Piajkoli ar Aloo diye Tangra Macher Jhol (also known as Bengali Light fish curry prepared with Tyangra Maach, Onion Stalks, and Potato)
- Bou Khuda (also known as Boua Pulao or Bou Khudi)
- Ghee Bhat (also known as Bengali Sweet Pulao)
Have you tried the Chingri Mathar Qaliya recipe from Debjanir Rannaghar!
Do let me know how it came out. Also, I would love to see a picture of the same which you can share here at email@example.com. Meanwhile, on Instagram, you can use my hashtag #debjanirrannaghar and in addition, you can tag me at @foodofdebjani.