Mamta's Kitchen

Prawn Balchao Pickle

Prawn Balchao Aachar

Mamta Gupta

Prawn Balchao is a Goan dish, where prawns are pickled in a hot and spicy mix. It is very hot and only eaten in small quantities. If you make it less hot, it is quite nice as a side dish too. Makes 2 jam jars approximately.


  • 100 gm. dry prawns / shrimp 1 1/2 cup). Buy pre-cleaned ones. (Available from Oriental and some Indian grocers)

  • 2 onions (250 gm.), peeled

  • 10 cloves of garlic (1 whole garlic bulb), peeled

  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled

  • 3 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped. If you have tomato puree, use 3 tbs. of that

  • 1/2 (0.5) cup cooking oil

  • 1 heaped tsp. nigella or kalaunji/kalownji seeds

  • 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp. hot chilli powder

  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder

  • 1 tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper

  • 1.5-2 tbsp. salt, adjust to taste

  • 3 tbsp. sugar

  • 1.5-2 cups malt vinegar


  1. Dry prawns are rich in salt and may have some dust on them, so soak them in water for a couple of hours and drain.

  2. Chop half the prawns coarsely by hand or in a food processor and keep aside.

  3. Blanch tomatoes and chop finely by hand or in a food processor or use tomato puree. Keep aside.

  4. Chop onion, ginger and garlic by hand finely, or in a food processor. Do not make a paste of them.

  5. Heat oil in a pan and add nigella seeds. After about 10 seconds, add onion, ginger and garlic mix and fry until light golden in colour.

  6. Add tomatoes, chilli powder, black pepper, turmeric and salt and stir fry until it looks a thick mass, not runny. Most of the water should be evaporated. Oil will often separate from the bulk at this stage.

  7. Add vinegar, sugar and chopped prawns. Cook for 5 minutes and add remaining prawns.

  8. Taste and adjust salt and chillies. It is better to put less at first and add more if necessary.

  9. Cook on low medium heat for about 10 minutes.

  10. Adjust salt, vinegar, chillies and sugar. It should be sweet-sour-hot.

  11. Cool, bottle and label.


  • I have been told by some friends from Bombay that it tastes like Bombay duck! Well, I have never eaten Bombay duck, so if anyone else thinks the same, do let me know via the contact link. It can also be made using fresh shrimps, but flavour is less intense.

  • Also see Pickle and Chutney Selection.

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