Balchan – Burmese Eral Thokku (Prawn Chutney)

In Tamil Nadu we use the term ‘thokku’ to refer to chutneys fried in oil and made of either vegetables or fish. This particular recipe was given to me by my friend Jacintha whose family returned to India from Burma in the ’70s. Her mother, Mrs. Vimala Joseph, is a talented cook and this  recipe is from her.  I have standardised the quantities and the procedure from the rough sketch given by her daughter.


Burmese Eral Thokku (Prawn Chutney)

Nutritive Value

Prawns are a rich source of very high protein and also the vitamin choline. The oil added to prepare the thokku also contributes to the energy value. It is served as an accompaniment and also has  pride of place in a lunchbox as a sandwich filling or a side dish to a packed lunch.


  • 250 g Prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 10 Garlic Cloves, diced
  • 1 C Onion, ground
  • 1 C Tomatoes, ground
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 T Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • ½ C Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tsp Salt, or to taste
  • ½ C Water


  1. Boil the prawns in half a cup of water. Cook on low heat till almost dry. Cool.
  2. Make a coarse paste of the prawns in a mixie or a blender.
  3. Heat the oil in a non-stick kadai or wok.
  4. Add the diced garlic. Almost immediately, add the ground onion. Stir to blend well. Fry on low heat till the onion paste has thickened.
  5. Add the ground prawns and the turmeric and chilli powders. Stir and blend well.
  6. Add the ground tomatoes and salt. Blend well.
  7. Cook on low heat till the oil seperates.
  8. Serve with rice, chappati, idli, or dosai.


  1. If you are unable to get a 250 grams pack of shelled prawns, shell 500 grams of prawns. The result will be approximately 250 grams without the shell weight.
  2. Cooking on low heat is most essential as high heat may scorch the prawns and give an unpleasant odour and taste to the thokku.
  3. I prefer Kashmiri chilli powder for its mild flavour and rich colour.

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