Prawn balchao is a fiery dish from Goa in coastal western India and is much like a pickle. Do as the Goans do and serve it with hot plain rice.

Balchao is a fiery Goan seafood delight and is almost like as pickle made either with prawns, fish or other meat. The balchao is served with hot plain boiled rice. Balchao is a style of masala (mixture of spices) from Goa in which whole spices like cumin, dry red chilies and a little sugar are soaked in vinegar and grind to make a thick paste.

It has almost a sweet-hot-sour flavor spice mixture used most commonly for pickling the meat and shrimps for a couple of days and then cooked into a dry-dish.

Balchao originated in Macao (also once a Portuguese colony), where it is called Balichao. Prawn Balchao is one such popular and spicy seafood dish from the Goan cuisine. The traditional Balchao uses a paste made from dried shrimp known as galmbo in Konkani but people leave out the dried shrimp paste as it leends fairly strong fishy flavor to the dish hence is often bottled and eaten as a side dish. There are different versions of preparing the Balchao. In most catholic homes they use coconut vinegar for its acidic sharpness whereas in Hindu families they use cane vinegar to make it milder. These days white distilled vinegar or malt vinegar is commonly used.

The Balchao has a number of whole spices and a lot of whole cayenne pepper, sugar a nd vinegar. Fish, prawns, pork and vegetables are pickled in this mixture for a couple of days and later can be cooked and reduced like dry curry. This dish is normally served with Bhakri.

To prepare the Balchao spice mixture, firstly grind together cumin seeds, peppercorns and chilies, along with vinegar. Mix in little turmeric powder to it, mic well and keep aside. Heat little oil in a pain and add the curry leaves and fry till they turn brown. Add washed and cleaned prawns and stir fry till opaque. Add masala, garlic, ginger, and green chilies and mix well delicately. Simmer for about 10 minutes and the Balchao is ready. Serve piping hot with plain boiled rice.


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