Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Chingri Bhorta or Chingri Mola -- spicy prawn pate

Chingri Bhorta, Chingri Mola

Chingri Mola | Chingri Bhorta

Chingri Bhorta or Chingri Mola is a spicy prawn paste, made with tiny, small shrimps cooked in mustard oil and then mashed with green chillies and raw onion. This recipe is my adapted version of the original.

This Chingri Mola or Chingri Bhorta is a huge favorite with me and my older daughter. It is shrimp so what is not to love honestly.

As simple as this dish is, it was not something that my Mother made. Bhortas or baatas, which means anything that is mashed or made into a paste, was not very popular in our urban home, except for the few vegetables that were steamed and then mashed. So say like, aloo seddho/aloomakha or mashed potatoes, kumro bhaate aka mashed pumpkin.

Most of the baata or bhortas in Bengali cuisine is attributed to the Bengalis from East Bengal or Bangals. And that is why whatever baatas I have had is at my in-law's home, be it Kaanchakolar khosha baaata or Phulkopi or Mulo r paata bata

The Bangals, or the Bengalis who immigrated from Bangladesh during or just before partition, are known for their distinctive cooking strategies. They are also known for their enterprising habit of using every bit of vegetables and fish in a dish and not wasting even the peels. I am not sure why people from this region of Bengal are more prone to making baatas etc while the folks from West Bengal are not.

It could be that the immigrant Bengalis were more careful about not wasting food and making the most of what they had. It could also be because Bangladesh was a river state with frequent flooding, so people tried to make most of the vegetables they got during those periods of rain and flood. In both situations, the idea was to stretch to the limits of what little you had.

This particular Chingri Bhorta or Chingri Mola however is not something that my MIL made either. I first heard of it from a friend who described the "Chingri r Mola" that he had at his friend's house in Midnapore, West Bengal. It was made with tiny, small shrimps in their shells, too tiny to remove the shells or tails. These were cooked in mustard oil and then mashed with fingers. Slivers of chopped raw onion and green chillies were then added to them and mashed in together. The friend reminisced how delicious the Chingri Mola tasted and how his friend's mother who pressed the tiny shrimps with her fingers into a coarse paste had magic in those fingers.

This sounded so exciting that I started cooking this chingri mola at home. However the one major thing that we lacked here was the tiny shrimp. We only had the bigger prawns here. So I  adapted the recipe a little. I use medium sized shrimp and make a coarse paste in the mixie. Of course the flavor of those tiny shrimps caught from the local river is missing but we make do with what we get don't we ?
I have also added a second step where I  saute the shrimp paste in mustard oil with nigella seeds, green chillies and onion to make it drier. I think this definitely boosts the flavor and also makes it a dish which you could serve at parties.

Chingri Mola | Chingri Bhorta

Prawns/Shrimp -- about 15-20 medium sized prawns

Garlic -- 6 cloves of garlic
Ginger -- 1 Tbsp of chopped ginger
Dry red Chili - 2

Onion - 1/2 of small onion chopped
Green chilli - 3-4
Kalonji/Nigella seeds - 1 tsp

Mustard Oil - 2-3 Tbsp
Salt - to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

Prep the Shrimp

If you are using frozen shrimp first defrost.
Next remove the tail and shell. Devein if necessary.

If the shrimp is particularly large in size, chop in smaller pieces. Toss the shrimp with a sprinkle of turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside

Start cooking

In a kadhai heat Mustard oil to smoking.

Add the garlic, ginger and the dry red chillies. Break the red chillies in two before adding to oil.

Once the garlic starts to sizzle, and you get a nice garlicky aroma, add the shrimp. Saute for a few minutes until shrimp loses its raw coloring. Shrimp cooks fast so saute until shrimp is cooked.

Make a paste

Transfer the ginger, garlic, red chilli, cooked shrimp to a mixer jar. Cool. Grind to a coarse paste with very little splashes of water.

Finish off

To finish off, in the same pan/kadhai that you cooked the shrimp, heat some more mustard oil. You can also use the oil remaining from previous step

Temper the Oil with 1 tsp of Kalonji.

Add the chopped onions and the chopped green chillies. Saute until onion is pink. Add salt to taste.

Add the shrimp paste and saute to dry off the excess water.

Drizzle some more mustard oil. Serve with white rice.

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  1. Ei dhoroner ranna'r description poreo jibhey jol chole ashe!

  2. Very Appetizing recipe.. thanks for sharing:)


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