Goan Prawn Balchão

Balchao is a fiery Goan seafood delight and is almost like as pickle made with prawns. Balchao is a style of masala (a mixture of spices) from Goa soaked in vinegar and ground to make a thick paste. History states that Balchao was introduced by Portuguese to Goa during colonization. The balchao is served with hot plain boiled rice.

Goan Prawn Balchão

Goan Prawn Balchão

Recipe by Ushakal GroupCourse: Main CourseCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 pounds small to medium-sized prawns (cleaned and deveined)

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 large onions (finely chopped)

  • 3 large tomatoes (finely chopped)

  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste or 7 to 10 garlic cloves (chopped)

  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste or 1-inch piece of ginger (chopped)

  • 10 to 12 dried red chili peppers

  • 4 Cardamom pods, peeled

  • ½ black Cardamom, peeled (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper corns

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 2-inch stick of cinnamon

  • 8 to 10 cloves

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/2 cup coconut vinegar

  • Salt to taste


  • Clean and devein the prawns. Put the prawns in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on them. Set them aside.
  • Using a dry pan over medium heat, toast the dried red chilies, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, and cinnamon until they begin to release their aroma. Take off from the heat and cool.
  • Grind the ginger, garlic, and toasted spices into a smooth paste using the vinegar. You can do this with a small food processor or a mortar and pestle.
  • Heat the oil on a medium flame in a wok-style pan. Add the prawns and stir fry until opaque. Remove from the pan and set them aside.
  • In the same pan, fry the onions until they are light brown. Add the tomato and fry until soft.
  • Now add the spice-vinegar paste, sugar, and salt to taste. Fry until the oil begins to separate from the spice mixture.
  • Add the prawns to this spice mixture, mix well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Serve with hot plain boiled rice.


  • You can enjoy this Prawn Balchão immediately or refrigerate it to enjoy the next day, after all the spices mingle and blossom. It can keep for a long time in the refrigerator, so if you can resist eating it all at once, you can enjoy it with meals for days to come.
    You can adjust the amount of heat in this dish by varying the amount of the red chilies, which is the only hot spicy element.
    If you have a source of fresh curry leaves, add a few of them with the tomatoes to fry with the onions. They add a wonderful pungent element.

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