Prawn Balchao: The Goan Prawn Pickle

Prawn Balchao: The Goan Prawn Pickle

This is a special recipe, Prawn Balchao is something I adore. My wife, 10 month old baby and I are back from a road trip, we drove from Mumbai to Nepal and back. Prior to leaving my mother was over and we cooked this Prawn Balchao.

So when we got back there was this full bottle of Balchao waiting for me in the fridge, needless to say I finished the entire thing in one go. So I am excited to share this one with you. As usual, you guys are in for a treat!

Prawn Balchao Masala Ingredients:

prawn balchao masala ingredients
24 Kashmiri Chillies
1 Inch Piece Ginger
6 Flakes Garlic
1 and 1/2 Teaspoon Jeera
1/2 Teaspoon Haldi Powder
A Small Ball of Tamarind
Vinegar around 200ml

Other Prawn Balchao Ingredients:

prawn balchao gravy ingredients
2 Medium Sized Cups of Prawns
4 Medium Onions cut fine
1/2 Inch Ginger cut into Jullians
6 Flakes of Garlic cut fine
2 Green Chillies
2 Sprigs of Curry leaves
300 to 500 ml of Oil depending on storage

Put all the masala ingredients in the blender
put the prawn balchao ingredients into the blender
They needed to be blended in vinegar so add around 200ml
blend the ingredients in vinegar
It needs to be a fine blend take for example the masala below is not quite done, can still see the chilly seeds and its coarse.
semi done balchao masala
Hope your prawns are cleaned or you can do that while your masalas getting done.
a bowl of fresh prawns
Your Balchao Masala should look like what it is below.
balchao masala
Once your prawns are cleaned, saute them for a while.
stir fry the prawns
Now you need to chop the second set of ingredients, onions, ginger and garlic.
chop the second set of ingredients
Your prawns should be fried by now, keep them aside till they cool off and become easy to handle.
keep the fried prawns aside
Put some oil into the pan and put the curry leaves on the fire.
fry the curry leaves
Add the juliennes of ginger and stir fry with the curry leaves.
add the juliennes of ginger
Then add the garlic pieces are continue frying
add the garlic pieces
When slightly brown add the onions and yes, keep frying!
add the onions keep frying
While thats happening, chop your prawns into pieces this is if you have large or medium size prawns. You want the masala flavour to get into it.
chop the prawns into pieces
You have reached a culinary check point once your onions are nice and brown.
saute till brown
Its time to add the balchao masala to the ingredients.
add the balchao masala
Now mix the masala up with the ingredients and let it fry as well.
fry the balchao masala
Once thats done, add the chopped pieces of prawn to the masala, your prawn balchao is nearly ready.
add the chopped prawn pieces
Mix the prawn balchao ingredients in the masala till its spread evenly.
mix the prawns in the balchao masala
Split and cut into pieces two green chillies or more if you want your prawn balchao extra spicy.
chop a green chilly or two
Add the green chilly to the prawn balchao and your done. If you are going to consume the balchao immediately you can use less oil during the steps.

If you plan on preserving it for a long time add more oil, you need to make sure once you bottle it, there should be oil floating above the contents for it to be well preserved.

Hope you enjoyed yet another recipe my mother had to offer πŸ™‚ As usual, please help us by spreading and sharing our website, thanks all!

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46 Responses to Prawn Balchao: The Goan Prawn Pickle

  1. Debra November 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Looks like a great recipe. Will try it out for sure

  2. Anonymous November 27, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    this is awesome.. just gave it a shot and got 90-95% close to what my grandmum and mum aka the master chef make.. perhaps the addition of some jaggery or sugar… thanks a lot from Belden in South Africa

  3. Anita December 16, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    Thanks will try your recipe.Do we need to grind the spices with some water too?

    Anita from Canada

  4. Clyde December 16, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    Anita, grind them in vinegar πŸ™‚

  5. colin December 16, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    One of the best pictured and explained methods of making Prawn Balchoa, well done Deb.
    Can I re post your recipes on our website?
    with full credit of course !!

  6. Clyde December 16, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    @ colin

    you can link to us if you like, im a little apprehensive of the use of the recipes everywhere….

    perhaps half the recipe and a link πŸ™‚ lol

  7. Anonymous December 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    Thanks for the was simply delicious!! A must try for those who haven't tried it yet….Sharon

  8. Angel June 5, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    wow looks yummy

  9. Mrs Fernandes June 5, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    Can you please tell me how long can we preserve this.

  10. Poornima June 5, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    This is a superb recipe as are the other ones. Thanks for this .

  11. Anonymous June 5, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    I tried it today… Yummy in my tummy πŸ™‚
    Thank you

  12. shradha June 5, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    hi i m goa, n i have eaten balchao before , infact its one of my fav. though i belong from a hindu family .. i have had lots of christian friends n their mothers would specially serve it for me at meal. my mouth is watering while writing this:)… but i always thought as i read on the net that even dry small prawns(galmo) paste is also added to it.. is this true? or is it that its a entirely different recipe? thanks for this recipe.. i will surely try this when i get back home..

  13. Leila July 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    having lived in Bombay i am familiar with Goan food and balchao is a favourite i think I have found the perfect recipe now .thank you. Have been googling because i don't like cinnamon

  14. merry bee July 13, 2012 at 6:51 am #

    can v use this masala for dry bombay duck….bombil

  15. Clyde July 13, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    @merry bee

    yes you can but you may have to keep it standing for longer so the bombil soaks in all the masala πŸ™‚

  16. sandra September 27, 2012 at 7:39 am #

    Tried your receipe …its great. Wanted receipe for Goan Brinjal Pickle. Thanks

  17. Anonymous September 27, 2012 at 7:39 am #

    Thanks a lot for this recipe! What Vinegar should one use? I'm in the uk and the most common here is malt vinegar. I'm guessing the regular white one?

    • John Lucas De Sa January 30, 2018 at 8:49 am #

      In my opinion, Goan coconut toddy vinegar is the best for making Goan Prawn Balchao and I have personally made the mouth-watering delicacy on several occasions during my working days in Yemen, of course, using my own mother’s recipe that has proven to be legendary. I used fresh and large, Red Sea Prawns, cut into quarters, and also the edible portion in the prawn head – as that adds tremendous flavour to the dish. Kudos to Clyde! His mother’s recipe is somewhat similar to my Mom’s too.

      The next best vinegar for the recipe is Apple Cider Vinegar. White or Malt vinegar is not suitable.

  18. Jack Hammer September 27, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    Do you know where in Bombay, I can get those Humongous Chillies we use to get the the red color for Sorpotel without the heat ??

    Thanks…[email protected]

    • Marcos Rodrigues April 11, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

      I’m guessing you are referring to Kashmiri chillies..

  19. Chowder Singh October 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Nice recipe.

  20. ED November 17, 2012 at 4:43 am #

    Tried this and its good. I don't have to buy packets of ready made balchow any more. Thanks a ton.

  21. Sonal December 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Recipe is so well explained with pictures, so we know exactly how its gonna look in the process. Love it. Thanks!!!

  22. Tony April 23, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    My mouth is already watering looking at this recipe…Is Prawn Balchao and Prawn Moelho the same?

  23. Jan May 1, 2013 at 7:05 am #

    made this 4 times now…with dried prawns and twice with salted fish…so very, very good…next one to try is with bomli ….:) thanks so much for this wonderful recipe

  24. crystal July 26, 2013 at 6:05 am #

    in bombay u need to ask for kashmir chillies.

  25. darsh August 29, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    hi which vinegar is to be used here ..looks like u have used some other vinegar than the regular white one …?

    • Marcos Rodrigues April 11, 2017 at 8:41 pm # sure it would work well with Goan vinegar; maad, made from coconut palm.. or soro gone bad.. πŸ˜‰

  26. Sandy Rodrigues June 24, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    Tried it!! Awesome .. For keepers!!

  27. Edwina November 9, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    I have made this with Bombay ducks, it taste awesome, especially on a rainy day with dal and rice. The Bombay ducks need to be soaked in water so they become a bit moist, squeeze out the water, add a little haldi and salt, fry just like you would the prawns, and follow the above recipe. Enjoy…

  28. Roselle Braganza March 18, 2015 at 5:56 am #

    How about adding a little powder made by grinding dry prawns? It does give a better flavour

  29. Sydney Mumbai March 18, 2015 at 5:57 am #

    Hi Clyde,
    The recipe is fine but let me share a secret with all you guys – add the Goan Jaggery (Maadachen Goad) and tell me the difference in taste.

  30. Dan March 18, 2015 at 5:58 am #

    Is this like the lovley Balchao curries you get in the shacks?

  31. Anonymous March 18, 2015 at 6:00 am #

    Tried it. Great. Your Mum is amazing. Thanks to her we can enjoy.


  32. Anonymous March 18, 2015 at 6:02 am #

    Clyde, could you ask your Mum a query for me please. I'm inclined to use Kashmiri chilli powder for its convenience. A no no in India. Could I soak the chillies in vinegar to soften, then grind/puree them and preserve them in a bottle and use as needed. Would that be better than using the chilli powder. Thanks……Lydia

  33. John March 18, 2015 at 6:04 am #

    Fantastic recipe! What type of oil do you use?

  34. Nalini March 18, 2015 at 6:05 am #

    Thank you for the fantastic recipe! Wanted to make it myself in Canada so my parents wouldn't have to sneak bottles through customs when coming from India. Thrilled about the results and authentic taste!

  35. Rhoda D October 7, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    Excellent! I made it & everybody loved it. Thanks!!
    btw, I didn't find salt mentioned, but added it anyway πŸ™‚

  36. Shomayel November 17, 2016 at 4:19 am #

    Thanks for the amazing recipe……

  37. Mitchelle March 21, 2017 at 4:22 am #

    Tried it. Lovely. It does not take long to get over. Can you also post Bombay duck pickle.

  38. Marcos Rodrigues April 11, 2017 at 8:36 pm #

    Hi Clyde.. my mom used bilimbi (or bimbli) into the balchao.. this used to be really awesome.. is there any way you would know? Thanx

  39. Av Leo July 8, 2017 at 7:39 am #

    I don’t comment too much but enjoy trying and the taste of each and every recipe here. I have already shared these recipes with many a Hindu community who love our Goan cuisine. You won’t believe: your website is the lifeline to my cooking. Thanks and Deu bore koru

  40. Jo Azaredo August 1, 2017 at 1:08 pm #

    Thank you for the recipe, looks good
    Taste better I’m sure
    Must try

  41. Ivona Pereira August 6, 2017 at 8:44 am #


  42. susan November 14, 2017 at 10:59 am #

    Hi Clyde,
    Can I use this recipe for any other ingredient other than prawns as am allergic…I use to love eating prawn balchao…pls suggest…long to hv the taste back

  43. Sulata Coelho April 4, 2018 at 3:03 pm #

    Thank you once again for your authentic recipe. You dont know but you and your mum’s recipes are a blessing for us non goans married into goan families. God bless you both. I made this just now but used dried shrimps after soaking them and my husband has been testing (tasting) it every 5 mins. I hope some is left till dinner time. Thank you once again.

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