Malai Prawn (Creamy Prawn Curry)

This creamy prawn curry is a Bengali delicacy eaten with traditional jeera rice. Sometimes called Chingri Malaikari, or Malai for short, this is now eaten throughout India and around the world.

The prawns are cooked in a thick coconut milk gravy with whole spices for a strong, flavorful dish. You will find prawn Malaikari a part of the menu in many Bong (Bengali) parties in the U.S.

We highly recommend making this flavorful dish with the prawn heads on, as they add another dimension of seafood flavor to this already delectable preparation. If you are not used to preparing prawns and cleaning prawn heads, don’t worry. You can still make a wonderful variation by shelling, deveining, and removing the heads of the prawns.



  • 2 large onions
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 green chilies
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • Salt
  • 2 pounds large ​prawns (also called tiger prawns)
  • 3 tablespoons single cream
  • Garnishfresh coriander leaves

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Wash, shell, and devein the prawns, carefully, leaving the heads intact.

  3. Grind the onions, tomatoes, and green chilies into a fine paste in a food processor.
  4. Heat the oil in a pan and add the paste. Fry for a minute.
  5. Add the ginger paste and garlic paste and fry for another minute.

  6. Add the garam masala, coriander, cumin, and the chili paste and cook until the oil begins to separate from it.

  7. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste.

  8. Add the prawns and cook for another 2 minutes

  9. Turn off the fire and stir in the cream.

  10. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with jeera rice or plain boiled rice.


    • If you cannot find prawns at your fish market, you can substitute with shrimp. Although technically not the same animal, and shrimp live in saltwater while prawns dwell in freshwater, the two crustaceans are interchangeable in recipes as their taste is often similar. Since this recipe calls for large prawns, make sure to substitute with larger sized shrimp.
    • Single cream is a common ingredient in the UK but not readily available in supermarkets in the United States. British single cream has about 18 percent fat while half-and-half runs between 10 and 18 percent and light cream is anywhere from 18 to 30 percent fat. Choosing either as a substitute for single cream should do the job. If you are looking to be a bit more precise, you can combine 4 parts half-and-half with 1 part heavy whipping cream.

    Recipe Variations

    • Another way to switch up the flavor in your prawn malai curry is by bringing a nutty taste to the dish. Include a tablespoon of cashew paste as well as a 1/2 cup of freshly grated coconut. Add both just after putting the ginger and garlic pastes into the pan.

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