Balchao is a Goan pickle. As an experiment, we built our own version of it, where we made a fresh Balchao pickle and stir-fry prawns with it. It worked so well – the fresh pickle against the prawn, the oil from the fat from the prawn head came together beautifully – that we added it to the menu. After our little experiment, as it happened, we got invited by designer Wendell Rodricks to his house for a meal. The food was amazing. He took out a small bottle of balchao paste – one of the best I ever had – and the taste was not very dissimilar from ours. That moment reasserted to me that we were doing at least something right. In the recipe I am sharing with you readers, I haven’t put in the oil as it’s quite an expensive technique, but it makes sense for us to do it at the restaurant.
For Balchao Masala
- 500 gm onion, chopped
- 50 gm dried Kashmiri red chilies
- 45 gm grain sugar
- 10 gm green chillies
- 6 gm garlic cloves
- 4.4 gm turmeric powder
- 1 gm cumin seeds
- 275 ml white synthetic vinegar
- 200 ml sunflower oil
- 1-inch cinnamon stick
- Salt to taste
- 500 gm prawns, cleaned and deveined
- 4 tbsp balchao masala
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1.5 tbsp garlic
- 10 curry leaves
- 5-6 chillies, slit
For Balchao Masala
- Whizz garlic cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, Kashmiri chillies, turmeric powder, green chillies and vinegar in a blender.
- In a pan, sauté onions in oil until translucent.
- Add the blended mixture and sauté for a minute. Pour in water and cook until the water evaporates and the spices are cooked. Continue cooking until the mixture starts leaving oil.
- Season with salt and sugar.
- This masala keeps well in the freezer for 3 weeks.
- Marinate prawns in garlic, chilli and salt for 10 minutes.
- Heat oil in a pan. Sear prawns on both sides, and add balchao masala and curry leaves. Check seasoning and adjust.
- Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with fried curry leaves.