Prawn Balchão

Prawn Balchao

Prawn Balchão is a spicy shrimp based masala pickle and a favourite in most of the seafood-loving Goan houses. It can be made with Tiger Prawns too. It is a spicy-tangy, sweet type of pickle and can be made in advance without reheating it and eaten for months, if stored properly.

RECIPE #1 of the #thehomemadepickleseries

This recipe today has to be the first of #thehomemadepickleseries as it is a fondly loved family recipe exclusively from my adorable mum-in-law. It, for sure, is a favourite amongst many I know…She definitely makes the best prawn balchão in the world and she has many fans too who adore her cooking…

Prawn Balchao with some of the ingredients used to make it

A little note about her. Why I think she’s amazing?

Maria Candida Matildes Baracho e Da Cunha is one of the strongest women I know. My mum’s name is Matildes too. Sweet coincidence, isn’t it?

My mum-in-law is an amazing wife, proud mother of two sons, loving mum-in-law and caring grandmother.

She enjoys and loves cooking, gardening and nurturing plants and animals…

She has a lot of pets and they are little kids to her… A parrot called Toto, a tortoise, 4 dogs- a Dalmatian called Lexi, a Rottweiler called Lola(I named her), a local breed called Ticoo, and a mixture of a German Shepherd and Dalmatian called Shelly. These are just some. And, a dozen chickens and ducks, an aquarium full of fishes to add to it. There are many who love her and playing with them makes her happy.

A spoonful prawn balchao would never hurt anyone

Her cooking hobbies

She makes delectable homemade wine, homemade vinegar, different homemade masalas like recheado masala, some scrumptious sanaas and Sorpotel for feasts…and many other foods…

I plan on sharing the homemade wine and vinegar recipe with you all too. Comment down below and let me know if y'all would like to know the recipes. 

Pickles are by far her expertise… she’s just a pro in preparing a variety of pickles, molhos, balchãos, etc.

With this #thehomemadepickleseries , I’m blessed and lucky to share a few of her famous recipes with you all to enjoy…

I hope y’all have read and loved my introductory #thehomemadepickleseries post. If not, please do have a read.

Prawns cooked in a spicy tangy chilli vinegary paste

Balchão traditionally prepared as:

Balchão is traditionally made with the addition of small dried shrimp called galhmo. Some of the ingredients normally used are onions, tomatoes, etc. This recipe only has an onion ground with the other whole spices.

Balchão is best served with plain boiled rice. Balchão can also be eaten with a bread or poi. I love it that way too.

This recipe can be made with easily available ingredients and is best made with Kashmiri chillies (available in most Indian stores around the world), Goan Toddy vinegar (can be substituted with other vinegars too), fresh prawns (can be made with frozen prawns or shrimp too, if fresh ones aren’t accessible).

Oil and vinegar added to this recipe acts as natural preservatives.


Prawn Balchão

Vania Cotta
Prawn Balchão is a spicy shrimp based masala pickle and a favourite in most of the seafood-loving Goan houses.
Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Goan, Indian, Portuguese
Servings 4 small jars


Balchão masala

  • ¼ kgs Kashmiri Chillies
  • a pinch Cumin seeds
  • a pinch Turmeric Powder
  • 3-4 nos Cloves
  • 1 inch Cinnamon stick
  • 1 nos Onion small
  • 1 nos Tamarind small lemon sized ball soaked in vinegar
  • 2-3 pods Garlic
  • Ginger very small piece
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar a little tsp
  • Vinegar for grinding

Other ingredients

  • kg prawns cleaned, deveined, washed and salted
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  • Grind all the dry ingredients with vinegar until you get a smooth thick masala paste.
  • Keep aside.
  • Fry the prawns until slightly brown, caramelised but be careful not to burn it.
  • In enough hot oil, fry the masala well. Add a little sugar.
  • Add the fried prawns to the fried masala and let it coat in the masala well and cook for sometime.
  • Add salt to taste.


  • Soaking the Kashmiri chillies in vinegar for sometime before grinding helps it to grind easily. 
  • Avoid using water at any stage. Water can spoil the Balchão.
  • Check and remove any seeds from the tamarind. 
  • You can eat this pickle as soon as it is made.
  • Or store it at room temperature or refrigerated for months.
  • If you like the pickle spicy, do not add sugar.
  • If you’re using tiger prawns or big prawns then do not forget to boil them a little before frying them.
Keyword homemade pickles, Prawn Balchão

Whenever we come back to England from Goa, we always make sure to carry enough prawn balchao to enjoy some while we are away from home.

On busy days this pickle is perfect for us, as we enjoy it with some plain white rice and some dal. Just the day before we ate some of mama’s prawn balchao with some nice hot flavourful chicken pulao. Have you tried the recipe yet? Please do make it.

Homemade Prawn Balchao

Anyway, see y’all next time! Ciao!

Please make sure to check my apple pickle recipe too.

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Use the hashtags #thehomemadepickleseries and #deliciouscravingsatvaniaskitchen to share your pickle creations with me.

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. Daphne Pires says:

    Wow …what a tribute
    Please share your wine and vinegar recipe too .

    1. Thank you! Yes, yes… definitely the first thing on the list after #thehomemadepickleseries is over…

  2. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe…. Yes please share your wine and vinegar recipe too… A big thanks to your mum-in-law…i just loved your respect to your mum in law…. No wonder the recipe is tasty n full of love

    1. Aww! That’s such a sweet comment! Thank you! Yes, definitely sharing it next after #thehomemadepickleseries is over…

  3. Tanya says:

    Thanks Vania for sharing the secret recipe!!! I’ve definitely tasted your Mum-in-law tasty food!! Will surely try it out ..

    1. Thank you so much Tanya! ❤️

    2. Her food is amazing isn’t it?

  4. Nisha says:

    This recipe looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it. Question regarding the dried shrimp: if I am adding some dried shrimp, how do I do that? Do I grind some with the masala or add them when I am frying the fresh shrimp. Also, do I add them dried or do I reconstitute them in water or vinegar first? How much dried shrimp should I add to your recipe above? Thank you in advance for your input.

    1. Thank you so much Nisha for your message! You can add dried shrimp while grinding. Add about 2-3tbsp or a handful. Depends entirely up to to you… but if they’re the strong kind then make sure to adjust the salt accordingly as you don’t want the final pickle tasting too salty. Let me know if you need any further assistance. Happy to help! Good luck!

  5. Renee says:

    I noticed there were lots of seeds when grinding up the chili into a paste but noticed in your photos there aren’t any seeds. Am I supposed to take the seeds out?

    1. Not really as the seeds should grind too! However, you could remove them or soak the chillies in vinegar for sometime before grinding to let the whole chilli grind into a fine paste faster

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