“Chungdi malai is one of the most coveted dishes of Puri (a city in eastern India),” chef Maneet Chauhan writes in her new cookbook Chaat. “It showcases the elegant flavors that are the trademark of the regional Oriya cuisine. Coconut milk and shrimp are natural dancing partners, rounded out with the earthy note of ghee laced with a tapestry of spices. The shrimp should be marinated for about 1 hour to infuse them with flavor, but otherwise this dish comes together quickly, making it an ideal family meal on a weekday that calls for something special.
It was in Puri where I tried my first shrimp, which my father had bought from one of the train vendors. They were covered in a fiery red chile sauce that I didn’t realize also contained large chunks of pineapple, which when covered in sauce closely resembled the shape and size of the shrimp. I took a bite of what I thought was shrimp but was actually pineapple and exclaimed to my dad, ‘Shrimp tastes just like pineapple!’ The incident still makes him laugh, and whenever he visits one of my restaurants in Nashville, I inevitably hear him tell this story at least once to a tableful of customers. Pineapple is not a traditional ingredient in chungdi malai, but sometimes I add it, especially when preparing it for my father, because it always gets a laugh out of him. If you’d like to include pineapple, add 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh or canned pineapple when you add the coconut milk.”
Reprinted with permission from Chaat by Maneet Chauhan and Jody Eddy copyright © 2020. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.