Bengali 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 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.