Prawn and coconut cream curry

You can’t beat a good curry. This prawn and coconut cream curry with chilli and ginger is flavourful and really simple to make. I’ve included a make from scratch curry paste. It’s good with chicken, fish and vegetables. Having a ready-made curry paste on hand makes midweek suppers a cinch.

The paste is simple and easy, better than most store-bought versions. I must admit, as a food blogger and recipe developer I sometimes feel just the tiniest bit guilty using a ready made paste. Although nowadays there are so many good brands to choose from. So, if you’re looking for a short cut, by all means, use a ready made paste. Midweek suppers need to be uncomplicated so do what works for you.

Prawn and coconut cream curry

The heat level here is mild, not hot at all. You can of course add as much red heat as you like. I’ve used three different types of chillis in the paste, each of which contributes a different kind of heat. Made with red chillies, dried chilli flakes and chilli powder.

Good curries are about building flavour. Dry toasting the whole spices release their natural oils and provide intense flavour. Caramelising the onions slowly over a gentle heat lends a gentle sweetness. Once the paste is done, you’re on the home stretch to the quickest curry ever! Prawns require minimal cooking time, so make sure you have the rice ready.


Prawn and coconut cream curry

Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 x quantity curry paste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup (125ml) tomato passata or tinned, chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
400g tinned coconut milk
500 – 600g deveined prawns, tails on
juice of half a lime
salt, to taste

For the paste

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 shallots, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cm ginger, grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lime juice

Start with the paste. In a dry frying pan (no oil added), toast the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds over a medium heat until fragrant and the mustard seeds start to pop. Transfer to a grinder or place in a mortar and pestle and crush until fine and powdery. In the same pan, heat the vegetable oil and sauté the onion until soft and caramelised. This should take about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for 2 minutes. Now add in the masala, turmeric, chilli powder, chilli flakes, salt and sugar. Stir through for several minutes. Lastly add the finely ground spices, water and lime juice. Mix to combine.

Transfer the paste to a processor and blitz until smooth. If you’ve made double, store half in a sterilised jar and cover the top of the paste with a tablespoon of vegetable oil to retain it’s flavour and freshness. Store in the refrigerator.

To make the prawn curry, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a pan. Add 1 x quantity curry paste, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and sugar. Bring up to a gentle boil and then add the coconut milk. Simmer uncovered on a medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Add the prawns to the sauce and cook for 3-5 minutes, until cooked through. Add the juice of half a lime and check the seasoning. Serve immediately with your choice of sides.


More curried deliciousness:

Cape Malay chicken curry with roasted bananas

Butternut tikka masala curry

Red Thai salmon curry with coconut cream



10 Comments. Leave new

  • Sounds divine. This is a “me” dish. Can’t wait to try it. Thank you Di.

  • Dianne Bibby
    4 August 2015 2:18 pm

    My pleasure. I’m a huge curry fan and this paste is so versatile to adapt for chicken or vegetarian options. Enjoy.

  • I’m definitely going to try this as I’m a huge curry fan and was always looking for a prawn curry recipes as the the curry I enjoyed in Durban

  • Dianne Bibby
    5 August 2015 6:54 am

    I hope this curry will match those you’ve enjoyed before. You can definitely add more chilli if you like it ‘Durban’ hot!

  • I just made the paste and it’s amazing! !!!!

  • Di, this was again a awesome recipe, I did however changed the vegetable oil with coconut oil and the sugar with xylitol, and it tasted gr8!

  • Glad you liked it Semone. The flavour of a homemade paste is just intensely good.

  • Love that there are so many ingredient options available that’ll work just as well. Thanks Ivette.

  • Hi Di, how much is 1 X quantity of curry paste?

  • Hello Rick. My apologies for the very tardy reply. It is the full quantity of paste. Sorry for the misunderstanding. It was mentioned as 1 x Qty for those who wanted to double up and store one part for later.

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