There is a plethora of Bengali recipes cooked with prawns. Freshwater prawns are hugely popular amongst Bengalis and we love cooking them in different ways. There is the famous ‘golda chingri’ from Bengal with a large head that is primarily used for making chingri malaikari. Then there are bagda chingris or tiger prawns that are mostly used for special occasions. Kucho chingris or really small prawns are used for chorchoris. And then there is chapra chingri or the freshwater white prawns that are small to medium-sized and are used for any and everything. Almost all homes have a stash of these prawns in the freezer for quick use anytime. They are used abundantly in various Bengali recipes. Add them to anything and get an elevated taste and texture. Lau chingri is one such recipe.
I have a serious shellfish allergy. It was one fine day during my college in Goa that I developed this intolerance. Since then, I had to give up on lobster, crabs, mussels and all other shellfish. After years of living on antihistamines, now I can manage to have small prawns cooked without the head or the shell. Hence food like lau chingri or an enchor chingri or prawn fried rice is tolerable for me. Then there are people like Anindya. He cannot manage large prawns and he doesn’t enjoy them much. By large prawns, I mean lobsters or scampi cooked with their head and served with the shell. He prefers to have small prawns.
Have you tried these prawn recipes?
How to cook lau chingri?
There are many recipes for lau chingri that you will find on the internet. But traditionally, this is one of the simplest recipes of all time. It doesn’t use any powder spice other than turmeric powder. The prawns are first marinated in salt and turmeric powder. Then they are flash fried for 20-30 seconds. The tempering is simple- tejpata, dried red chillies and whole cumin. Often we don’t get good quality bottle gourd. The best way to deal with the old one is to put it in a pressure cooker for one whistle before adding it to the kadai. If you get fresh and young bottle gourd, finely cut it into small pcs and add it to the kadai.
A little bit of turmeric powder and let the gourd cook in its own steam, covered over low heat. Finally add ginger paste, sugar, salt, green chillies and ghee. The trick to getting a beautiful mushy texture is to add a slurry of aata with water.
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Lau Chingri | Bottle Gourd with Prawns Bengali Recipe
- 1 medium size bottle gourd
- 250 gms prawns cleaned, shelled and deveined. You can keep the head.
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 2 nos tejpata
- 2 nos dried red chillies
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 2-3 tbsp mustard oil
- 1 tbsp ghee
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp aata whole wheat flour
- Put the prawns in a bowl and add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt. Mix the prawns well.
- Peel the bottle gourd and finely chop it.
- Heat 2-3 tsps of mustard oil in a deep pan or wok and flash fry the prawns for half a minute.
- Add mustard oil to the same pan. Heat the oil, put bay leaves (tejpata) and dried red chillies. Add cumin seeds and sauté for a few seconds.
- Now add the chopped bottle gourd, half tsp of turmeric powder and stir fry over high heat for 3-4 minutes.
- Then cover and let the lau (bottle gourd) cook on low heat.
- Once it has softened, add ginger paste and then the prawns.
- Add salt to taste and sugar. Mix this well.
- Then make a slurry of aata and water and add this slurry to the lau and cook on medium heat while stirring and mixing the slurry with the lau.
- Finally, add green chillies and ghee and serve hot with rice.