Friday, February 23, 2007

Shorshe Chingri Bhape


When I was waxing eloquently about Mustard and Mustard Paste in my post MySpice -- Mustard, my dear blog friend Indosungod raised her eyebrows (ok I didn't see but am sure she did) said (to the effect) "You use mustard paste in your cooking". That hit me hard, I have blogged for almost 6 months now and have not conveyed to the world that Bongs adore Mustard paste and their most keepsake recipes are the ones that have Mustard paste or Sorshe Bata in it.


What am I, a disgrace to the Bong Culture? Am I the prodigal bong female that Bong Gurus gossip about and dismiss with a nod of their head while gulping their hot-hot tea and chicken pakodas? Am I that abhorred Bong Mom in the night-time stories told by the millions Bengali mothers to their little ones, the one who went across seven seas and forgot the mustard paste ? Or maybe I am the one who forgot her "Shankha-Pola"(Red& White Bangles symbolic to marriage in Bengal) and her sorshe bata and became "Amrikan" and lost her roots as the Ma-in-law in one of the many Calcutta homes would be whispering to her soon to be NRI daughter-in-law.

How could I have done this, such shame and dishonor and so I decided to rectify it "Right Here, Right Now" -- the recipe with mustard paste I mean


So I bring to thee Steamed Prawns in Mustard Sauce or Sorshe Chingri Bhapa. As you eat this the strong and sharp flavor of the mustard will clear any doubts you had earlier about this mustard loving clan, as you press the green chillies (that is what you should do, not discard them) and mix the light yellow gravy with white rice and tears run down your face for the all the "Hotness" which is sharp and pure you will be filled with joy and Thank The Mustard

Sorshe Chingri Bhape is a popular and traditional Bengali dish. Best enjoyed with white rice it has satisfied numerous Bengali palates at lunch as well as dinner. Simple and easy to cook it plays on the taste and flavor of mustard.


Shorshe Chingri Bhapa ~ Steamed Prawns in Mustard Sauce

What You Need

Prawns ~ 12-14 large sized ones. I used fresh ones, you can use frozen too

For the Paste
Mutard Seeds ~ 3 tbsp
Posto or Poppy Seeds ~ 3 tsp
Green Chilli ~ 3
Salt ~ a pinch
Soak in warm water for 30 minutes and then grind to a paste
The Mustard-Poppy Seeds Paste ~ use almost 3/4th of the paste, makes little less than 1/2 cup. If the paste is too pungent for you, you can sieve the paste and use the more liquid mustardy water mixed with a little of the thick paste.

Narkel or Grated Coconut ~ 1/2 cup fresh or frozen. You can use more if you want
Yogurt ~ 1/4 cup thick beaten yogurt. Use 1/2 cup of yogurt for more gravy-ish dish.

Sugar -- 1/4 tsp for a light sweet edge

Turmeric Powder -- 1/2 tsp

Sorsher tel or Mustard oil ~ 2 tbsp
Green Chilies ~ 8-10

Salt -- to taste

How I Did It

Wash and shell the prawn and devein them as explained here in an earlier post on Prawn Malaikar

Mix the prawns with salt and turmeric and keep aside for half an hour
Make a smooth paste with mustard seeds, poppy seeds, 3 green chillies, a little salt and water.

In a container which you can steam or which you can put in the pressure cooker, mix the prawns with mustard paste, yogurt and salt according to taste. I also add just a pinch of sugar.
Slit 4/5 green chillies and add to above
Add 2tbsp of Mustard Oil to this, drizzle liberally on top that is
Add some fresh grated coconut to this. If using frozen grated coconut defrost and then use.

Now put water in the pressure cooker bottom and put in this container.
I have a Futura Pressure Cooker and I steamed for 1 minute. In this pressure cooker, after the full pressure is built the time has to measured (no whistles), so I kept for 1 minute after the build up of full steam. In a whistling pressure cooker, you have to allow one whistle I guess
Take it out and serve with hot white rice. For an extra kick drizzle little mustard oil before serving

Note on making Mustard Paste: When I didn’t have a wet grinder to make my mustard paste I used to dry grind the seeds in my coffee grinder and then mix the dry powder with a little vinegar, salt, and green chillies and keep for an hour or so. The wet grinder serves the purpose much better and makes a nice smooth paste with green chillies, and salt
Alternate Recipes: The same recipe can be applied to Paneer and is called Bhapa Paneer. I think this is what Ashwini meant, when she left a comment about Bhapa Paneer she had at her friends place.
SJ has a recipe for Bhapa Ilish or Steamed Hilsa in Mustard Sauce another Bong favorite. That doesn’t need the Posto or poppy seeds though
You can also try this with Salmon. Though I have never steamed Salmon. I use this same method and then bake the salmon, covered at 375F

Trivia: Darius, King of Persia, sent Alexander a bag of sesame seeds, meant to suggest the number of Darius’ troops. Alexander, in return, sent Darius a bag of mustard seeds, not only more numerous because of their smaller size, but also more potent and fiery than sesame.(Source: Mustard facts from Plochman)


  1. Well its also new for me in mustard paste..good you brought it up otherwise I would also have raised my eyebrows...:-) ..the way you described with chillies , it seems tempting

  2. I have heard of Aloo Posto and this dish is interesting too although I don't eat Prawns.
    I love the trivia at the bottom!:)

  3. I loved the post, made me smile, I think you must be a great story looks great even though I don't eat prawns...take care

  4. Makes nice reading, Sandeepa! I make some Bengali stuff myself, I love the mustardy taste!

  5. Sandeepa should I be proud? that "I sent you back to your basic spice" with my line of questioning or glad that you made this wonderful dish because of that. We are Prawn lovers too. Gotta try my first mustard paste dish.

  6. Hi Sandeepa,

    Thank you so much for this recipe -this is one of my favorites :) I can just savor this dish looking at the pic :)

  7. Sushma
    OMG good that posted it :)

    If you don't eat prawns, you can try with Paneer or any other fish too

    Good to see you back after such along time. But aap ajkal post nahin kar rahe hain ?

    You make Bengali food...that makes me so happy. I always wonder how people in different parts of India react to the food from diff regions. Like though being a bengali I love stuff like Bisi Bele Bhath etc. apart from the Dosa-Idli (and i got to know only because I spent some years in B'lore). But many of my Bong friends who did not stay outside West Bengal are not even aware of food like Puliyogare or Bisi Bele Bhath.
    Similarly I feel how does a non-Bongs taste buds react to these hard core Bong tastes like Mustard paste etc.

    Yeah you can be all, that's what I love about Blogging, the instant reaction. And you all have been such good friends

    Yeah Orissa shares a lot of similarity in cuisine with Bengal right ?

    1. Sra, regarding taste buds reacting to mustard paste.... being from Sunny South I now find it awesome. In fact I skip the poppy seeds and the curd in the above recipe to enjoy the unadulterated 'Sroshe' tang. Yummy.

  8. I feel cooking with Sorshe bata in food is the easiest cooking procedures among all Bong foods.

    You make an important point about bongs not knowing Bisebele bhaat, I have a trivia to that effect. Most non-bongs do not know that there is a wealth of Veg Recipies in Bong cooking. They assume that most bong cooking are Fish related.

    Btw, I am not sure whether you tried this or not, there is a Egg recipie with Sorshe Bata. I made it for my cousin (a bong from Cal) and she was surprised with that too. Try that out too its a mixture of making Dim er jhol and this recipie.

  9. dear Sandeepa,
    oh you are one such good writer and a great cook,loved the shanka-pola and all the whispering between ma-inlaw and Dil...way to go ...
    and also the recipe is new to me , we have tried hilsa/ilish in such a way but it seems ,each day brings something new to me ....
    enjoy girl with mustard and Prawns ..
    tried your orange kheer ,loved it thanks for sharing ..
    hugs and smiles

  10. What am I, a disgrace to the Bong Culture? - hehehe...

    Btw, good that indo made you come out!! :)

  11. Sandeepa, nice write up.I miss bong dishes that i have tasted at my friend's house(whose is back to inda now) everytime i go thru your post.This recipe with mustard and chillies sounds tempting.Will try this soon to add "third hit" recipe from your blog..:D.I like the idea of replacing prawns with paneer.Thanks for sharing.

    Abt your que.n regarding Rice noodles.You can get it any indian grocers.The name would be Instant dry idiyappam or Instant Dry Indian rice noodles.(I don't remember the brand name though.

  12. Cooking with mustard paste is surely new to me too Sandeepa. I really admire your way of writing.

  13. Cooking with mustard paste is not alien to Andhra cooking, Sandeepa. We do make some mustard based curries (aava petina kuralu) which are delicacies and your post sure does make me want to blog about them..:).

    Of course your version of mustard paste is different from ours. But nevertheless, its mustard all the way.

    Must thank ISG and you for this. Your post made nice reading and a good recipe..:)

  14. you're the queen of mustard! I really love this prawn!

  15. Kausum
    We too make an egg curry with sorshe bata, but not very often. Tumi tomar recipe ta post koro, tumi nijeo to prochur ranna koro mone hochche.

    Yeah making Hilsa this way is more common, right ?


    thanks and shall look for the "idiyappam" next time


    Didn't know this and would look forward to your recipes with mustard paste. Please post some time

    Ha, ha :)

  16. Used to do it as a hobby. Now a days, unless I invite someone for dinner, dont cook much. Only 2 challenges to cooking bong food, mocha and papaya mishti which I havent tried so far. Maybe you can put up the recipies.

    Some notes on your recipie which I have realized after some trials and mistakes and experiments.

    1. When making mustard paste, if you add a little pepper seeds, the taste is better.
    2. The container which you used to steam should be covered with an aluminium foil. The aroma stays within and the vapours do not dilute the taste.
    3. Always use raw chingri and not the frozen ones we get at stores. The reason being, the taste of dish comes with a combination of chingri and mustard. A neutral taste of the chingri will not reveal the good flavor of the dish.
    4. I have observed that during deveining, the black thing is not necessarily black. It can be white. For further trivia, it actually is the alimentary canal's exit point. Contains waste matter and should be removed. Stomach upset results from that part if eaten.

    My 0.02$ :)

  17. Sandeepa...hahah...loved reading this! I don't eat fish...but that mustard paste looks mighty tempting..maybe I can find something else to go with it!


  18. ha ha... loved reading ur post. although i am a veggie i will check if i can use the same base using vegetables:)
    u know we use lots of mustard to make pickles. i have seen my mom making mustard paste in bulk quantity for pickles and i just love that smell. i can imagine how tasty and aromatic this gravy could be...

  19. Haha, you're so cute and funny! Your description of the "prodigal Bong female" made me laugh. I'm sure this will prove to them that you're not completely "Amrikan" yet! :) Looks great and easy! And I can get all the ingredients here!

  20. Hey Bong Mom :)I enjoyed reading ur write up. U got a style :)I like mustard taste and I remember someone mentioning once that u get to smell the mustard oil if u pass by a bong house!! and ur write up sums up it all :)

    Btw, i guess i confused u with my narration in my latest post, i actually took a lent avoiding non veg and not fasting for the entire month without eating anything.I'm a lil creature, how can i survive without food for a month ??;))


  21. First visit to your blog -- so many interesting new-to-me ingredients and cooking techniques. I'll be adding things to my pantry, for sure.

  22. As usual loved your write up! Sorse bata chigri looks good. Oh-no just came in late to work this Mondy morning and you got me thinking of dinner already!

  23. K
    Thanks for your million-dollar tips :)

    Trupti & Sia
    You can try this with Paneer

    Funny...and my honor is at stake here :)

    Ha ha..yeah don't use Mustard Oil much these days except for fish & some specific dishes

    Thanks for visiting

    tomar Ilish ta link korechi, hope that's fine

  24. No no Sandeepa you are not a disgrace to Bengalis.I knew about the importance of mustard seeds and mustard oil in Bengali cooking,I am surprised how others didnt know it;)

  25. Sandeepa,

    two questions / tasks for you.

    1. Tell me the story of the bong woman who went overseas without her mustard paste and

    2. I have learnt that mustard if ground and pasted, soothes skin and removes pimples, blemishes you know such medicinal effects? can you post them along?

  26. Truly!

    Facts are Amazing..!!

  27. Sandeepa,
    As always loved reading your post. Mustard base looks yummy. Will try it with some veggies.

  28. Hi Sandeepa! Bengali cuisine is new to me, not Bengali sweets ofcourse!! I love the way you write, you have your own unique style!:) I'd surely like to try authentic Bong cuisine.
    The trivia was funny!!

  29. Sandeepa,

    Your dish looks amazing .I can really smell it.

    We cook with mustard paste as well.Prawns are not very popular in our household, but we do use it with fish.

    Try it with bhendi/okra. It tastes just as good.

  30. Is this the same bottled mustard paste that we get here in the uS...same flavor I mean? or do you have to grind the mustards for an authentic flavor? What do you think I can substitute the prawns for? tofu? Nice recipe. thanks!

  31. Sumitha, seema, Sher, Jyothsna

    Thanks a lot for your nice words :)

    A. Yunus
    1. Answer to first question -- that was just a joke

    2.I didn't know of such medicinal effects of mustard, amazing

    Yeah bhindi with mustard paste is yummy

    I left a answer at your blog. No it is not the same, way difference in taste

  32. Love your writing, Sandeepa! ISG raising her virtual eyebrow made me laugh! :)
    I don't eat seafood (I know, I know YOU'd be a disgrace as a Bong if you did not! :) but maybe I can try this with potatoes, na? I'd love to try this sometime.

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. Sandeepa - that was so funny! Mustard rules!!

    (spelling mistake on previous comment and had to delete it - sorry - aargh!

  35. Hi Sandeepa great work. My mashi got me introduced to your blogs and now I am hooked on to it. I just love reading your posts and your recipes rock.

    I love the trivias at the bottom.


  36. Thanks Anu :) Who is your mashi ?

  37. hi,
    This recipe was new to me & i was waiting to try it out.Today,i finally made it & it turned out to be so different & delicious.I just loved it!!..Thanks for the recipe.

  38. Hi,
    I love your blog. This reminds me of my mom's chingri paturi made in a similar fashion. But I haven't been able to find any posto in London and so I'm going to miss out on your shorshe bhape as well as my beloved potol-jhinga-posto.

  39. Hey, I'm an NRI married to a Bong, and my mum-in-law tries her best to teach me the intricacies of Bong food when I go to Kolkata, but it's all new to me. Your recipe on Shorshe Bhapa Chingri sounds great, will definitely try to make it (as soon as I get a pressure cooker with separators, that is!). In the meanwhile, could you please put up one on Sorshe Machh? Please do also specify which type of fish one uses - I'm in UK, so no point trying to get Rohu or anything.

  40. I am just not getting the mustard paste right. I used a mixie as I don't have a grinder. First time, I kept the mustard and poppy seeds in water for 30 mins and then crushed it in the mixie...Second time, I tried using curd with the mustard and poppy seeds paste.. but the familiar taste and smell is missing. Any advice for this fan of Illish-n-shorshe-n-doi curry?? :-)

  41. Anon

    I know it is difficult to get it just right. I think the "kind of mixie" plays a very imp part here. What kind do you have ?

  42. I used a regular mixie... is it that u need to grind the mustard rather than use a mixie? do i need to use a particular type of mustard or the common one available in markets will do? any suggestions on the proportions of mustard,poppy seeds and curd for abt 3/4 kg of fish??

  43. Anon

    For a regular shoshe bata the posto(poppy seed) is in very small proportion to the mustard.

    I have a Magic Bullet which really grinds it well. But my Cuisinart would do a bad job. So if you have one of those small wet grinders that will work better

  44. I like the way you write your recipes. I will try this out tonight. Is it ok if I dont add posto?

  45. Swati, Yeah you can do without the posto

  46. I did it a couple of times(without poppy seeds) but the problem was the gravy and the prawns are becoming bitter.I understand that i am using too much sorshe,but using lesser sorshe how will I get that thick gravy?thanks for sharing so nice recipes

  47. Prosenjit

    How are you grinding the shorshe ? Here in the US I always add a little posto(poppy seeds), green chili and salt while making a wet paste. I have a small wet grinder(Magic Bullet) which works for also small quantities.

    The problem is not too much shorshe, the problem is HOW you are grinding it. Dry grinding makes it bitter often.

    Also try with white mustard seeds and see.

  48. thank you for such a quick reply....I grind it manually with SHIL NORA...:-) yes you are right I did that dry grinding mistake.After reading your suggestion I soaked the sorshe in a bowl for 30 minutes,and then ground it with sprinkles of water while grinding.results....heavenly.thank you......

  49. I am going to try this recipe soon... seems to be tasty.

  50. Thanks so much for posting this....looking for some idea with "sorse and chingri" and your recipe came up as the first link in Google! Could we try baking it or slow cooking may be (with little water or milk of course)…. if the Pressure Cooker is not available? If so, what temperature (for baking). Any suggestion and/or comment is very appreciated.

    1. You can definitely bake it. I would say 350-375F in a conventional oven. Cover it while baking and do not add any water etc., the liquid from the mustard paste and oil should be good
      If your chingri is small, MW should work too

  51. Thank you so much! You are not only a good writer and a great cook but also a responsible blogger!!! Congratulation agian for the book deal.

  52. Hi Sandeepa, I am planning to make this in couple of days.... just have one question... after the full pressure is built, do I have to keep the cooker on high heat or lowest heat? Ami kokhoni pressure cooker'e bhape banai ni, tai ektu confused hoye gechhi... tumi ektu help korle khub khushi hobo! :)

    1. Well, I have those Futura pressure cookers. So after the full pressure builds it starts hissing, then at the same temp I keep between a minute and two. Don't open it then though. Wait for the pressure to subside and open only when the lid opens naturally.
      If you think it needs to be done a wee bit more, no worries just close and start again. Only remember to put water in the base pf the cooker.

      Also you can make this dish in the MW. easier and will be done in 5 minutes max.

  53. Hello
    I tried this preparation last week, and I must say it was a great success. Thank you for this recipe.

  54. Although I did some minor modification, instead of using a pressure cooker, i did it straight on the wok with a li'l dose of mustard oil

  55. In the absence of a pressure cooker, could a 'dekchi' be used to steam the prawns(for 1 minute or more manually)?

  56. This is one of my favourite Bong dishes ever!

    However, I had one question: What do you use to grind the mustard? I have found that grinding in the blender can make the mustard bitter. What exactly is your method?

  57. This is one of my most favourite Bong recipes!

    However, I have one question: how do you grind your mustard seeds? I have found that grinding mustard seeds in the blender often makes them bitter. So, I wanted to know how you ground your mustard seeds.

  58. Dear madam,
    Can you kindly post a recipe of 'Kochupata Chingri bhapa'. I am dying to prepare this at home but have no clue how to do it. Please help me.


  59. Here's another idea..give it a try...posto sorshe mix tar bhitor 4-5ta chingri die check it :D

  60. I use white sorshe and aldo add posto and soak it with water for about 15-20 mins and also add 3-4 green chillies and wet grind using a chutney jar but it alwazys makes my gravy taste bitter. Please help.


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