Balchao is a spicy and tangy curry or pickle from the Goan cuisine of India. It typically involves seafood, such as shrimp or fish, although there are also versions with meat or vegetables. The dish is known for its rich and flavorful masala (spice mixture) made with a combination of ingredients like red chilies, garlic, ginger, vinegar, and various spices.

The process of making balchao involves marinating the main ingredient in the prepared masala and then cooking it to perfection. The result is a dish with a bold and robust flavor profile, combining the heat from the chilies, the tanginess from the vinegar, and the aromatic spices.

Balchao is often enjoyed with steamed rice or traditional Goan bread called pav. It’s a popular dish in Goan cuisine and reflects the influence of Portuguese flavors, as Goa was a former Portuguese colony. The exact ingredients and preparation methods can vary, with different families having their own recipes and variations.

This recipe comes from my Mom’s cookbooks, but I’ve adapted it and made sure to include better process instructions and measurements.

Goan Prawn Balchao

Ingredients
  

  • 15 Kashmiri Chillies 35 gms
  • 3/4 cup Goa Vinegar Malt or Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black Peppercorns
  • 1.5 cups Oil
  • 300 gms Prawn or Shrimp
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 500 gms finely minced Onion 3 medium Onions
  • 35 gms each of finely chopped Ginger and Garlic 10 cloves and a 2 inch piece of Ginger
  • Extra tbsp Vinegar
  • Salt and sugar to taste

Instructions
 

  • Stem and deseed the Kashmiri Chillies and allow them to soak in the Vinegar for an hour
  • Grind the Chillies with the Vinegar, Cumin seeds and Peppercorns till it’s a smooth paste
  • Heat 1 or 2 tbsps of the Oil and add the Prawn or Shrimp with the Turmeric
  • Once the Prawn or Shrimp is cooked remove and keep aside
  • Add most of the Oil and add the Onion and allow it to get a nice light golden brown
  • Add the finely chopped Ginger & Garlic and saute for another 5 mins
  • Add all of the red masala paste and add a tbsp of Vinegar if needed to free all the masala paste
  • Add the cooked Prawn or Shrimp
  • Add the rest of the Oil and Salt & Sugar to taste
  • Bottle and store in a cool place for about a week before consuming