This prawn curry, with its creamy coconut sauce, is typical of the south-west Indian region and it features a home-made spice paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle you can do it in a food processor.






Skill level

Average: 3 (63 votes)


  • 25 g tamarind paste or 60 ml (¼ cup) tamarind concentrate (see Note)
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tbsp green peppercorns in brine, drained
  • 1 red bird’s-eye chilli, seeded, finely chopped
  • 5 cm piece ginger, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 270 ml coconut cream
  • 24 green king prawns, peeled with heads and tails intact, cleaned
  • steamed basmati rice and coriander sprigs, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Drink match 2010 S.C. Pannell Pronto Bianco. 

(If using tamarind concentrate, skip this step.) Place tamarind paste in a saucepan with 250 ml (1 cup) water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 25 minutes, breaking up tamarind. Strain through a fine sieve over a bowl, pressing to extract excess liquid. Discard solids and reserve liquid.

Heat a frying pan over low heat and toast cumin and fenugreek seeds separately for 2 minutes each. Cool, then place in a mortar with peppercorns, chilli, ginger and garlic, and, using a pestle, grind to a paste.

Heat oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves, and cook for 30 seconds or until seeds pop. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes and cook for 4 minutes or until soft. Stir in spice paste, turmeric, paprika, 1 tsp salt and 375 ml (1½ cups) water. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes or until sauce has reduced by half and is slightly thickened.

Stir in ready-made concentrate or reserved tamarind liquid, sugar and coconut cream, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Add prawns and cook for 3 minutes or until just cooked. Scatter over coriander leaves and serve with rice.


• Tamarind paste and concentrate are from Asian food shops.



Photography by Rob Frith.


As seen in Feast magazine, December 2011, Issue 4. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.