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  • Writer's pictureJyothi Varne

Prawn Balchao - Goan Recipe

Goa is a total bliss when it comes to sea food lovers. Most restaurants get their fresh catch every day, which gets showcased right at their entrance. Customers are free to pick and choose from the display, that later gets served at their dinner table. One such dish which I always relish at my favourite restaurant in Goa (Fish & Fenny, Ashwem Beach) is the Prawn Balchao prepared by the owner herself - Jenny. My colleagues love the prawn masala used in this one as the dish is a mixture of sweet, spice and sourness. The unique ingredient that makes the prawn even more delectable is the Goan Toddy Vinegar - one can get this in the Saturday Mapusa Market. Its like the Mecca for all the spices , fresh smoked sausages and pastes that the Goans use in their day to day cooking.

Well if you are unable to get your hands on the Toddy Vinegar you can replace it with the normal store brought Chilli vinegar as well - that should work fine too.

There are many variations to this dish, some make it like a semi gravy similar to how this recipe does while others pickle the prawn. But the taste pretty much remains the same no matter the type of preparation, although the later one is more tangier due to the pickling process. I always like my seafood fresh and never fancied eating the pickled range . Hence this happens to be my favourite of the lot when it comes to Goan cuisine.

Follow this step by step recipe for some home cooked Goan delicacy - Prawn Balchao


Prawns, de-veined - 1kg

Onions - 2 large, finely chopped

Ripe tomatoes -2

Curry leaves - 2 sprigs

Ginger garlic paste - 2tbsp

Dried Red Chilli - 15

Whole black pepper corn - 2 tsp

Cumin seeds - 1 tsp

Turmeric powder - 1tsp

Mustard seeds - 1 tsp

Cinnamon Stick - 1 inch

Cloves - 6

Sugar - 2 tbsp

Vinegar - 1/2 small cup

Salt to taste

Oil for cooking


1. In a large bowl, clean the prawns under running water, strain it out. Add a pinch of salt and turmeric powder, mix well and set aside. This step will basically remove the typical sea food odour from the prawns.

2. In a wok dry roast - chillies, pepper, cumin, mustard, cloves and cinnamon

3. Grind the roasted mix of spices along with ginger, garlic and the vinegar into a smooth paste

4. In another wok heat some oil, add the chopped onions and cook till golden brown

5. Add the chopped tomatoes and curry leaves- cook till all the water evaporates and the mixture turns all mushy leaving oil at the sides

6. Add the spice mixture and cook till the raw smell disappears

7. Add the prawns along with the sugar, check for spice levels and adjust accordingly

8. Cook till the water left by the prawns evaporates and the mixture turns into a thick gravy like consistency.

9. Serve hot with any roti or simple rice of your choice with a nice tall glass of chilled beer.

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