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.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time



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

For Prawns

  • 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

  1. Whizz garlic cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, Kashmiri chillies, turmeric powder, green chillies and vinegar in a blender.
  2. In a pan, sauté onions in oil until translucent.
  3. 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.
  4. Season with salt and sugar.
  5. This masala keeps well in the freezer for 3 weeks.

For Prawns

  1. Marinate prawns in garlic, chilli and salt for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Sear prawns on both sides, and add balchao masala and curry leaves. Check seasoning and adjust.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with fried curry leaves.
Hussain Shahzad

Hussain Shahzad

Hussain Shahzad, the Executive Chef at O Pedro, a Goa-inspired restaurant in Mumbai, is Scroll Food’s Chef of the Month for October. He started his career with the Oberoi Group of Hotels in Mumbai, before moving to New York, where he worked at the iconic Eleven Madison Park. His culinary adventures have taken him around the world and included a brief stint as a personal chef to Roger Federer. Before taking the reins at O Pedro, he was a part of the team at the award-winning The Bombay Canteen. A dynamic and bold chef, Hussain’s food philosophy is to showcase local produce using contemporary culinary techniques.

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