Thursday, 20 August 2015

Prawn Pickle

Prawn Balchao is the ultimate Goan Pickle! A must have in every Goan house, this delicacy is nothing short of finger licking good!

goan dried prawn balchao pickle
Goan Dried Prawn Balchao Pickle

Prawn balchao, being spicy, goes extremely well with a simple fish curry and rice or a dal and rice, but tastes just as good spread on top of a buttered toast!

For the best flavour, and believe me, this is hard to do, you need to let it sit for a couple of weeks to marinate and let the flavours bloom.

I've used a mix of dried and fresh prawns here, so there is a nice combination of textures and flavours.

This recipe makes for 2 large bottles and 2 jam bottles worth of balchao!

goan dried prawn balchao pickle
Dried prawn balchao pickle


1kg fresh prawns, deveined
100gms dried prawns
4  tsps of salt
1 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of kashmiri chilli powder
1 bottle (750ml) of palm vinegar
1 2' piece of cinnamon
1 tsp of cloves
1 tsp of cumin seeds
25 whole dried kashmiri chillies
6 tsps of kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp of peppercorns
100gms of ginger
25 cloves of garlic
3 large onions
135gms of tomato paste
2 tsp of sugar
3/4 cup of oil


Dried prawns
Soaked Dried Prawns

Wash the dried prawns to remove any sand or dirt impurities then soak in a 1 1/2 cup of vinegar overnight.

Marinating fresh prawns
Marinated Fresh Prawns

The next morning, wash and devein the fresh prawns. Marinate with 4 tsps of salt and 1 tsp of turmeric powder and 1 tsp of chilli powder and reserve for an hour. After an hour, finely mince the prawns. I just used a really sharp knife to do this.

Fresh chopped prawns
Minced Fresh Prawns

Add the dried prawns that have been soaking in vinegar in the mixer. There should be almost no vinegar left, as it will be absorbed almost completely by the prawns. Remove the prawns carefully, and add to the mixer. Then add the remaining vinegar, leaving back the last teaspoon or so to discard. That way, any impurities or sand or dirt that was still around, should have settled to the bottom and can be discarded.

dried prawns for balchao
Dried Prawns in the Mixer

Once you've added the dried prawns to the mixer, blitz it for a few seconds, till the mixture is ground but still coarse. I like to leave a little texture in my balchao. Remove and reserve.

To make the spice paste:
Peel the ginger and garlic and blend in the mixer, adding a little vinegar from the bottle if you need to losen it up. Remove and reserve.

Roasted dried kashmiri chillies for balchao
Roasted Dry Red Chillies

Dry roast the 25 kashmiri chillies in a pan till they warm up and you can smell the aroma. Put the heat off and let it cool, then grind it in the mixer, along with the 1 tsp of cumin seeds, 1 (2" piece) of a cinnamon stick, 6 tsps of kashmiri chilli powder and 1 tsp of cloves, to a fine powder. Add in the rest of the vinegar from the bottle and the ginger garlic paste you made earlier, to get a nice smooth paste.

chopped onions
Chopped Onions in the Mixer

Peel 3 onions, roughly chop and add to the mixer. Give it a quick blitz, to get it chopped but not pasty in consistency. (you could also chop it finely by hand - this just saved me on some extra work by putting it in the mixer). Remove.

fried onions
Fried Onions

In a deep pan, which you plan to make the balchao in, heat 1/4 cup of oil. Fry the onion mixture till its nice and golden. Add the tomato paste and cook nicely on a low to medium heat, taking care not to let it burn. Add the spice paste mixture and the rest of the oil (1/2 cup of oil) and let it cook for a further 10 mins. 

Once done, add 2 tsp of sugar to balance out the flavours. 

spice paste for goan dried prawn balchao
Balchao Paste

Add the dried prawns and the fresh prawns and cook on low for half and hour or so till the mixture has dried nicely and you can see the oil starting to separate. 

Cool and bottle in a glass bottle. I got 2 large bottles and 2 jam bottles completely full!

goan dried prawn balchao pickle
Dried Prawn Pickle

You can leave the bottles out for a day before putting it in the fridge if the weather is not too hot. Reserve for at least 2 weeks before eating.. This last line is probably the hardest part of the recipe! 

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