Coconut Curry Prawns

This recipe is deceptively simple, but so luxurious. I sometimes feel guilty about serving this to guests as they’re led to believe that I’ve been toiling away in the kitchen all day.
The prawn curry is best served with rice, and a tangy clean salad on the side. We had it tonight with Kachumber and brown rice.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 kg prawns – shell and heads removed, leave tails on
  • 1 small red onion – sliced finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic – grated
  • 1 inch ginger – grated
  • 1 cup heavy cooking cream
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon fennel powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 tablespoons coconut milk powder – (always keep some in your pantry, you’ll never know when you need it!)
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar – tiny pinch
  • Lime or lemon juice
  • Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Ghee (optional)
  • Fresh coriander – chopped


Slice down the back of the prawns, but be careful not to slice all the way through. By butterflying the prawns, you’ll make them more presentable. Also you make half a kilo of prawns go a longer way!

Heat a tiny bit of oil in a fry pan, press down the open sides of the prawns and cook until slightly pink. Turn over and fry the other side briefly. Don’t worry about cooking it, we just want it to hold it’s shape.

Remove prawns, in the same pan (don’t bother washing the pan), heat a little oil, add cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves. Throw in the onions, ginger and garlic. Stir well and scrap off any burnt bits of prawn – this will add flavour to the gravy.
A tiny pinch of salt and sugar will help caramelize the onions nicely. If you find your onions burning too quickly, pour in some cold water. I usually keep a glass of water by my side and add water if the pan dries out too quickly. I want sweet golden onions, not burnt crisp bits!
Once the onion is soft and ready, add powdered spices (red chilli powder, etc) and stir well. Again, a little water will help prevent the powdered spices from burning before they cook. Fry the mixture well until it turns into a deep red colour.
Remove the pan from the heat, pour in the cream slowly whilst stirring vigorously. Add the coconut milk powder and stir well. Taste the sauce, it should have strong but well-rounded flavours. Feel free to tweak as necessary, season with more salt or chilli as required.
You need the flavours strong at this stage, as they’ll mellow out once you add the prawns.
Put the pan back on the heat. Add the prawns when you’re happy with the gravy, if you would like a richer sauce, add the ghee at this stage and stir through. A tiny pinch of garam masala will help lift the flavours and a squeeze of lime and lemon will freshen everything up. Remove from heat, and garnish with chopped fresh coriander. Enjoy!

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