Prawn curry is a simple delicious & flavorful dish made of fresh prawns, onions, tomatoes & spice powders. It is also known as prawn masala & pairs well with rice, roti or phulka. Indian cuisine is very diverse and most foods are made in their regional style with locally available ingredients. This prawn curry has always been a winner at home for its simplicity and delicious taste.
Each region makes curry in a different style with different locally grown or available ingredients. Different ingredients like coconut, coconut milk, kokum, tamarind, red chilies, whole spices, poppy seeds etc are used based on the region.
This prawn curry is made with the most basic ingredients that most of us have in the pantry. It never fails to surprise me & my guests at how superb it tastes every time.
The recipe shared here yields a restaurant style gravy. It is a generic one and is not made in any regional style. You can also check this andhra style royyala iguru, it is a simple prawn curry made without tomato or coconut.
1. Fry onions in hot oil till they turn pink or golden. Then fry ginger garlic paste till the raw smell goes away.
2. Add chopped tomatoes, sprinkle salt and turmeric. Fry till the mixture turns mushy & break down completely.
3. Add garam masala, coriander powder, red chili powder and grated coconut. I used frozen coconut. you can also replace coconut with cashews nuts.
4. Fry on a medium heat till the mixture is nicely roasted, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Take care not to burn. To give a restaurant gravy taste and texture, we need to cool this and blend. You can also continue to cook the curry without blending. Just skip the next 2 steps and follow from step 7.
5. When it cools down blend with ¾ cup water to smooth. I pour ice cold water to the blender. Then I add the hot mix and blend to cut down the cooling time. Set this aside.
How to make prawn curry
6. Heat the same pan. Add oil and heat up. Next add cumin, green chilli and garlic. Wait till the garlic is lightly roasted then add curry leaves. Fry till crispy.
7. Pour the onion tomato mixture and more water or coconut milk as needed. Cook until the gravy thickens and traces of oil are seen on top. Then add the prawns and simmer just until cooked. They swirl up to C chape when done fully.
Overcooking will make them hard. Switch off the stove. Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves.
Optional : Alternately: You can also saute the prawns first till they turn pink, for about 2 minutes. Then add to the gravy. This helps to remove the raw flavor of prawns.
Serve with fragrant rice or roti, naan or chapathi. Jeera rice was a good choice to enjoy this prawn curry.
Tips to make best prawn curry
1. The base of this prawn masala is made by frying the onions, ginger garlic & tomatoes along with the spice powders until aromatic. This is what elevates the flavor of the gravy.
Roast these ingredients very well to get a unique flavor.
2. I have used tiger prawns. You can use any variety even the small ones. Just make sure you devein, clean & rinse them well before using in the recipe.
3. The prawn curry is made using a small amount of fresh coconut. If you do not have that replace it with cashew nuts.
4. For a creamy and rich taste, you can pour little coconut milk towards the end of making the curry. You can use either canned coconut milk or fresh homemade coconut milk. If you prefer to make your own their just blend a cup of fresh coconut with half cup of water. Filter it and use in the recipe.
5. The roasted onion tomato masala is blended to give a restaurant style taste & texture. However you can also make the prawn curry without blending the masala. You will just have a chunky prawn curry.
6. Garam masala is a common spice blend used in Indian cuisine. It is available in most Indian grocery stores. If you are not accessible to it, then just replace it with curry powder. But the taste of the curry will be different.
How to choose prawns for curry
- Choose prawns that have the shell on as they are fresher.
- Avoid buying prawns that have a fishy smell. Fresh prawns do not have any odor or fishy smell.
- If buying from the fresh market, look out for prawns on the ice as they are well kept. Avoid prepacked ones unless they are frozen.
- When you touch the prawn with shell, it has to be firm. Avoid buying prawns that are slimy & limp as this indicates they are not fresh & are a sign of decay. They will not taste good too.
- Look out for the right color of prawn. Fresh prawns are white or grey in color. However brown prawns will be brown in color.
- The meat of the prawns should be white without any black spots on them. Black spots begin to appear first on the head and then on the body of the prawns which are an indication of losing the freshness.
- Discard any spoilt or discolored prawns.
- Shell them first by removing the head. legs & tail. Devein them.
- Then transfer them to a bowl and pour 2 to 3 cups of cold water. Drain and repeat rinsing them a few times. If using frozen prawns defrost them the same way and avoid thawing or defrosting in microwave or using hot water as the prawns lose their taste and texture.
- Rinse each prawn well, drain the water & place them in a bowl.
- Use them up immediately to make the prawn curry.
Fresh vs frozen prawns
Most times I use fresh prawns as they are easy accessible here. But if you are using frozen prawns, then defrost them for 20 to 30 mins at room temperature before using.
Devein them and rinse well. Drain and use them in the recipe.
Prawn curry recipe
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
Other ingredients for prawn curry
- ¼ tsp cumin
- 1 green chilli chopped or slit
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 garlic clove chopped – optional
- 250 grams prawns
- 1 ¼ cup water or 1 cup water + ¼ cup coconut milk
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves Chopped
- Devein and wash the prawns well with cold water. Drain the water completely and set aside.
- Pour ¾ tbsp oil to a pan and fry onions till transparent. Then add ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears.
- Add tomatoes, salt and turmeric. Then fry till the tomatoes turn mushy.
- Next add red chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder and then the coconut. Fry everything well for about 3 to 5 minutes without burning.
- Cool this and blend with ¾ water to a smooth puree. To speed up the process you can use ice cold water to blend the hot mix. Set this aside.
How to make prawn curry
- Pour another ¾ tbsp oil to the pan and heat up.
- Add cumin, green chilli and garlic.
- When the garlic is lightly roasted add curry leaves and saute till they turn crisp.
- Pour the ground mixture and add water or coconut milk only if needed.
- Bring the gravy to a boil and cook on a medium flame until the gravy thickens and you see traces of oil on top.
- Add the prawns to the gravy and cook until they swirl up to C shape. Or Alternately you can also saute the prawns in a small pan just for about 2 minutes and add to the gravy.
- Do not overcook they turn hard.
- Taste the gravy and add more salt if needed.
- Garnish with coriander leaves.
- Serve prawn curry with any fragrant rice, biryani or roti, naan or chapathi.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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