Kerala Shrimp Curry - Shrimp or Prawn Curry with Coconut Milk and South Indian Spices.So cozy, so good.
You can make the same curry with both shrimp & prawn. In India, we get prawn and outside India, it's usually shrimp. There is very little difference in taste between them. Especially in a Curry.
This is a South Indian curry from the shores of Kerala. It's also called Nadan Prawn Curry or chemmin curry. I also love making prawn curry in goan style/ Mangalorean style which is known as Prawn Gassi or Yeti Gassi.
This is a mild, slightly tangy shrimp curry that's made in less than 20 minutes. It's one of my dependable, fast dinner recipes.
I can serve this in a span of 20 minutes along with some steamed rice.
Another take on south Indian sea food curries is my Shrimp curry from kerala using raw mangoes which is delicious and just so amazing with hot steamed rice!
Though both have similar ingredients, they are vastly different.
It is delicious when served with rice, dosas and appams. It's my personal favorite way of eating shrimp curry.
Why We love this Kerala Shrimp Coconut Curry
We make this curry again and again! This is usually on our weekly rotation.Here is why we love it so much!
- Quick to Make- Max of 20 minutes
- Easy Ingredients
- It's Mild so its kid friendly
Also, this recipe is
- Gluten Free
- Paleo and whole 30 approved
- Keto, Low Carb, High Protein, High Fat
- Dairy Free
Ingredients Needed to make Prawn Curry
Here is what you will need
- Shrimp or Prawn
- Coconut Milk
- Tamarind or Kokum
- Curry Leaves
- Mustard Seeds
- Red Chili Powder
- Coconut Oil
Optional Additional ingredeints
- Green Chilies
I like to use pre cleaned, deveined prawns or Shrimp. As explained below, depending on where you are, you will find either prawn or shrimp in your region.
For this recipe, you can use either prawn or shrimp. You can also use Scampi if you wish.
In the pictures, I have used tail on shrimp but you can use completely shelled, cleaned shrimp as well.
If using frozen shrimp, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter, till it's at room temperature.
You can also use any white fish to make a similar curry.
Tamarind or Kokum
This is the element gives the curry it's sour element.You can choose from
- Lemon Juice
- Tamarind Paste
- Tomato Paste
In Kerala, tamarind and kokum is used interchangeably. Kokum is called kadampuli in Malayam and it's scientific name is Garcia Cambojia.
Kokum is available in dry form and in a syrup form. Tamarind is also available in the dried fruit form and in pulp or paste form.
Though unlike tamarind, kokum can get tangier the longer it stays in a curry. So I always remove it when my flavors are balanced.
You can also use Tomato Paste or lemon juice instead of tamarind or kokum.
This herb is quintessential south indian herb. You can use fresh or dried with almost not a big change in flavor.
In a lot of dishes, the presence of curry leaves distinguishes the food from north and south india.
You get it easily in indian groceries. Keep it in an airy bag or a vegetable bag in the refrigerator. It dries up in the refrigerator very easily. You can keep it in that form for months.
You also get dried packaged form of curry leaves which have a long shelf life.
If you can't get it, you can easily omit it. It's more a cherry on the top than the main part of the dish.
We are already using coconut milk in this recipe. Adding coconut oil makes it richer and enhances the flavor.
In an ideal world, I would use freshly squeezed coconut milk. But that process is long and leads to a lot of soiled utensils.
So I prefer the coconut milk out of a can or a carton.
You can use regular red onions that you get in india.Outside india, use white or yellow onions.
To amp up the flavor, use sliced Shallots instead. They add a deep onion flavor that really goes with Kerala cuisine.
How to make Kerala Shrimp Curry
Here is step by step instructions on how to make this Malabar seafood curry
Step 1: Prepare your Kokum or Tamarind
The easiest is to use tamarind paste or concentrate. Note concentrate will be more pungent than the paste. So bare that in mind while adding it to the curry. Add just 1 teaspoon to start with and adjust as you go.
If you are using tamarind or kokum pulp, then you can just mix it with ½ cup of water.
If you are using dried kokum or tamarind, you will need to boil it in 1 cup water and let it steep till you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
For Tamarind- Sieve it and use the pulp and water. Again, add half of it first and adjust as you go. Here are some alternatives to tamarind
For Kokum - Add just the water it was steeped in. If you feel that the curry could be tangier, add the kokum pieces for 2-3 minutes while simmering.
Remember to remove the kokum pieces because it keeps releasing it's pungency.
If you dont have tamarind or kokum, use tomato paste or lemon juice instead.
Step 2: Prepare Shrimp
Add Salt, Turmeric, Ginger & Garlic to the shrimp and set aside.
This additional time will help the shrimp get seasoned from inside too.
Step 3: Sauté
To a pot, add oil. Once it's hot, add the curry leaves, Green Chili, Mustard seeds & Cumin Seeds.
Once they splutter and spilt, add the onions. Let them cook till they turn translucent.
To this, add the Kashmiri chili powder and roast for about 30 seconds.
Step 4: Add Tamarind/Kokum & Shrimp
Now add your marinated shrimp and ¼ cup of kokum water/ Tamarind water.
The prawns are cooked when they turn orange and curl into themselves.
Step 5: Add the Coconut Milk
Once the prawns are cooked and the water has reduced to a few tablespoons, add the coconut milk.
Don't let it boil. This will ensure the curry is thick.
Taste and adjust salt and tamarind or kokum accordingly.
TOP TIP - An easy way to balance the flavor in the curry is to play around with salty and sour notes. If the curry is too spicy and salty, add more sourness and vice versa.
When is Shrimp/Prawn Cooked
Shrimp takes only about 3-5 minutes to cook, especially on direct heat.
Once the shrimp has curled, its cooked. Any more cooking will lead to overcooking of the shrimp or prawn.
The other big clue is that shrimp turns from white to orange color. Almost coral salmonish hue.
Serving Shrimp Curry
Typically shrimp curry is served over steaming hot soft rice along with pappadams or Vadams(as in the picture).
Storing & Freezing
This curry will last in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. In fact, shrimp curries are better after a few hours of cooking. Especially the next day after it has had sometime to sit in the flavors.
I love freezing curries. Most of the times, you can heat it up in the microwave with Zero to almost no change in the texture.
Pop it in a zip lock bag or a freezer safe air tight container. Freeze it for up to 2-3 months.
More Indian Seafood Recipes
Here are some recipes from Kerala that we cook in our house
If you make this delicious south indian shrimp curry, do leave me a comment and a rating.I would love to hear from you!
- 1 Pound Shrimp or Prawn ; 500gms; 2 Cups Cleaned & Deveined
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Grated, Pounded or Paste
- 2 teaspoon Ginger Grated, Pounded or Paste
- 2 teaspoon Turmeric
- 2 tablespoon Coconut Oil
- 10-15 Curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
- 1 Green Chili Chopped; Optional
- 1 Onion About 1 Cup -chopped
- 2-3 Shallots Optional-Sliced
- 2 teaspoon Kashmiri Chili Powder Or Paprika
- 300 ml Coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon Tamarind Paste or 2 pieces Kokum/Tomato Paste/Lemon Juice
- Salt to taste
- Boil 1 Cup of water. Add the dried Tamarind or Kokum. Let it steep for 10-15 minutes till you do rest of the prep. If using tamarind paste, mix it in ½ cup of water.
- Add 1 teaspoon Salt, turmeric, ginger, and garlic to the shrimp. Mix and Set aside.
- Heat a pot on medium flame. Once hot, add the oil. Heat for 10-15 seconds
- Add the mustard seeds and cumin.When they start to splutter add the curry leaves and chili Sauté for 10-15 seconds.
- To this, add the chopped onion or shallots. Sauté till they are translucent. This should take 1-2 minutes.
- Add the Kashmiri Chili powder and roast for 10-30 seconds.
- Add the cleaned shrimp, kokum or ¼ Cup of tamarind or kokum water. Bring to boil
- The Shrimp is cooked when it has turned orange and curled up.
- Add the coconut milk. Let it heat through but don't bring it to boil
- Check the salt and sourness. Add more of salt and tamarind/Kokum water if needed to balance the curry.
- Garnish with Coriander or curry leaves. Serve hot.
Ground ChiliUse Kashmiri Chili or Paprika for color. 1 tsp- Mild Curry
2 tsp- Average Spice
3 teaspoon - Spicy Curry To make it spicier, use 1-2 slit green chili while sauteing the onions.
Coconut MilkThe best coconut milk is what you make at home but that's time consuming. My preference is canned or carton of coconut milk. If you want, you can also use dried coconut powder.
Tamarind/KokumThe easiest is to use tamarind paste or concentrate. Note concentrate will be more pungent than the paste. So bare that in mind while adding it to the curry. Add just 1 teaspoon to start with and adjust as you go. To use dried Kokum or Tamarind, Boil it in water, and let it steep. For Tamarind- Sieve it and use the pulp and water. Again, add half of it first and adjust as you go. For Kokum - Add just the water it was steeped in. If you feel that the curry could be tangier, add the kokum pieces for 2-3 minutes while simmering. Remember to remove the kokum pieces because it keeps releasing its pungency.