Allyson Gofton - Prawns In Sweet Hot Curry

Publish Date
Friday, 10 March 2017, 10:18AM
By Allyson Gofton

I think this is my most favourite curry recipe ever with its wonderful combination of sweet, sour, sharp and spicy.

The recipe was first written for NEXT magazine for a curry feature, a topic inspired by a visit to the spice hills of southern India. Choose small red onions and make sure they are well cooked before heading on with the rest of the recipe.

If you can, use large green prawns and cook them slowly so that the intense flavour of the sauce soaks into the prawns.

This recipe comes from the Parsees who fled Persia to settle on the northwest coast of India. They became known as Iranis and have a distinctive cuisine of their own.



3 tsp tamarind pulp
1 cup warm water
4-6 green chillies, deseeded and diced
6 large juicy cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
2 tsp ground cumin (or 3 tsp toasted cumin seeds)
2 good size red onions, peeled and finely diced
½ cup oil
1½ tsp each ground coriander and chilli powder
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
4 large juicy tomatoes, blanched, peeled and finely diced
1 tsp brown sugar
15 dried curry leaves ( optional )
½ cup coriander leaves
500 grams shelled green prawns, deveined


  1. Stir the tamarind and water together and set aside. Put the chillies into a food processor with the garlic and the cumin or cumin seed and process with 2 tblsp of the oil to make a thick paste. Set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining oil in a large heavy-based frying pan and add the onion. Cook stirring regularly for about 12-15 minutes until the onions are golden deep brown but not burnt. Add the chilli paste and cook over a hot heat for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the coriander, chilli, garam masala and turmeric powders and fry for one minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook stirring for a further 5 minutes. Add the strained tamarind water, brown sugar, curry and coriander leaves and about 1 good teaspoon of salt. Simmer for 2 minutes and then taste to ensure that the dish has a good balance of sweet and sour. The sauce should be of a medium thick consistency, if it is too thin allow to reduce a little before adding the prawn, or if to too thick add a little water. Much will depend on the tomatoes.
  4. Add the prawns and cook, turning occasionally until they are just cooked. This will take about 5 minutes if the sauce is hot. Do not over-cook as prawns become awfully tough. Serve with rice.

Cooks Tips

Curry leaves are not the same thing as curry powder. They are the leaves from a tree native to India. I have seen fresh curry leaves in the markets but you can certainly get them dried in good food shops where other Indian foods are stocked. If you cannot find any do not despair, leave them out, the curry will still be beautiful.


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