1. Clean and devein the prawns. Dry them off and place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt on them so they say moist during the cooking process. Set aside for about 30 minutes. 

2. Dry roast the red chiles, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cloves and cinnamon in a small skillet until you can begin to smell the aroma of the roasted spices. Remove from the heat and let them cool. 

3. In a blender, make the balchao paste by grinding the ginger and garlic paste, and roasted spices until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the blender jar to ensure all the spices are evenly ground. 

4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the prawns and lightly fry on both sides just until they change color. They do not need to be cooked until done as they will be cooked further in Step 7. Remove the prawns from the pan leaving the juices and place on a separate plate. 

5. In the same pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Fry the chopped onions until they turn light brown. Add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric and saffron. Continue frying until the tomatoes become soft and loose their shape.

7. Stir in the spice paste, sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt. Fry the balchao masala until the oil begins to separate. 

6. Return the prawns to the pan mixing well to cover them with the masala. Cook for just 2 to 3 minutes taking care not to overcook the prawns.  Serve immediately.


- Serve with saffron rice or plain rice.

- The masala can be prepared ahead of time and heated up just before cooking the shrimp to make a quick weeknight dinner. 

- I used garlic and ginger paste that I purchased from the Indian grocery store. Separate garlic paste and ginger paste could be used as well. Prepared pastes make this recipe even easier to make.


1 lb large prawns  

4 dry red chiles 

1/2 Tbs cumin seeds 

1/2 tsp mustard seeds 

5 cloves 

1" cinnamon stick 

1 1/2 Tbs garlic and ginger paste 

1/8 tsp turmeric

1 pinch saffron

1/4 cup vinegar 

2 Tbs olive oil 

1 large onion, finely chopped 

2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped 

2 tsp sugar 


Prawn Balchao [Indian Seafood recipe]

This fantastic Indian recipe originated in Goa. It is incredibly easy to make and the resulting dish tastes as though you worked all day on it. The sweet, sour and hot flavors combine to make an incredibly delicious dish. Serve with plain rice or saffron rice so the flavor of the balchao remains the focus of the meal. This has just become my husband’s new favorite dish.