Easy Indian Masala Prawns Curry - Prawn Masala is a quick and easy recipe that is delicious, aromatic and spicy. It works great as a starter or side and is best served with Rice or Chapatti.
*this recipe was updated on 11th august 2021 with yoghurt added to the marinade and pureed plum tomatoes added to the masala.
What is Masala Prawns or Shrimp Masala?
This Prawn curry is a very simple and flavorful dish made with fresh prawns, onions, tomatoes, yoghurt & spices.
There are so many different versions of this recipe out there and that is great because essentially Prawn Masala basically means a curry made up of Onions, Tomatoes and Spices.
This is a quick recipe which is made in less than 30 mins. The only time consuming bit of this recipe is making the masala.
Indian cooking is very regional and there are slight variations in many popular recipes that you know and love. It is all depends on ingredient availability.
This recipe is best served with Rice or Chappati.
Ingredients in Masala Prawns
The prawns are marinaded in:
Any Vegetable Oil is fine here. Coconut Oil is great too.
Garlic, Ginger and Green Chilli Paste
In equal amounts.
Fresh Lemon Juice is best but you can use bottled Lemon Juice too.
The Spice Powders that you will need are Ground Cumin Powder, Coriander Powder, Turmeric Powder, Red Chilli Powder, Salt, Black Pepper Powder
Plain or Natural Yoghurt.
They are then added to a base curry made up of:
Use one or both.
Mustard Seeds and Curry Leaves
This adds an earthy, zesty flavour.
Chopped White or Red Onions.
Tomato Puree and Tomato
Tomato Puree from a tube and Chopped Tomatoes from a tin. You can also use fresh Tomatoes if you prefer.
Or Madras Curry Powder. I use this instead of whole Spices for ease.
The Masala Prawns are then finished off with Double Cream, a scattering of coriander leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice.
How to make Masala Prawns
Marinade cleaned prawns for 5-6 minutes in Oil, Garlic, Ginger, Green Chilli Paste or chopped Green Chillies, Yoghurt, Lemon Juice and the following Indian Spices - Ground Cumin, Ground Coriander, Ground Turmeric, Red Chili Powder, Salt and Pepper.
Add Oil to a pan over medium heat.
Then add Mustard Seeds and Curry Leaves. Cook for 1 minute.
Then add onion.
Cook till golden brown - 6 - 7 minutes.
Add Tomato. Cook for 4-5 minutes on low.
Add water and Garam Masala Powder.
Add marinated prawns and cook for a further 3 - 5 minutes.
Add a splash of Cream to the final dish. (Optional).
Garnish with Coriander and serve with a squeeze of Lemon Juice.
Tips for choosing Prawns
Using shell on Prawns and removing the shell before deveining them means you get the best flavour.
For ease in this recipe, I buy shell off Prawns.
I use King/Jumbo Prawns or Tiger Prawns in this recipe. Argentinian Prawns are great!
If using shell on Prawns choose Prawns that in the shell, feel firm to the touch. Prawns that don't feel firm are usually not fresh.
You can use Fresh Prawns or precooked Prawns. If using pre cooked they will be pink. The others will be grey.
How to prepare Prawns
Discard any Prawns that have black dots on them or smell very bad.
Make sure you devein them!
Transfer Prawns to a bowl and add cold water. Drain and rinse a few times.
If using frozen Prawns, defrost them the same way. They will need around 30 minutes. Don't use hot water or a microwave to defrost, as they will become rubbery.
How to Serve
For sides (these work well with all indian food):
Storage for spicy Prawn Masala
Prawn recipes are best eaten fresh.
At a push, they can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for a day or two.
Reheating Prawns usually makes them a little tougher.
If you need to reheat leftovers, you can add a splash of water to a pan and reheat them slowly until warmed through.
I would not recommend freezing or microwaving cooked prawns.
Tips to make best Prawn Masala
In this recipe Onions are sauteed for a while and then tomatoes are added.
The cooking out of these ingredients with spices is what gives the curry real depth of flavour.
The base of the recipe is what makes it. So make sure you allow the onions to take on colour.
I have used King Prawns here. Tiger Prawns are great too.
You can use Tiger Prawns, King Prawns or smaller ones. Just adjust cooking time accordingly.
If you prefer, you can use Coconut Milk/Coconut Cream instead of Yoghurt in this recipe. The Coconut adds it's own delicious flavour.
Raw vs Frozen
You can use Raw or Pre Cooked Prawns. Both require very little cooking time.
Raw Prawns should be cooked for 4 - 8 minutes depending on their size.
Pre Cooked Prawns need 3 - 4 minutes. Over cooking makes them rubbery and tough.
You can blend the Masala to a smooth paste using a hand blender after the Tomatoes and Spices have cooked out before adding the prawns back in, to make for a smooth curry.
You can use Curry Powder instead.
This recipe is quite similar to my Masala Fish recipe. You can use fish instead if you prefer.
To make a creamier version with a different flavour, add 1/2 cup of creamed coconut or coconut milk towards the end of cooking.
The Prawns do not have to be marinaded for long. 5 minutes is enough.
Or you can use them immediately.
A squeeze of Lemon Juice before serving helps to bring the flavours together.
more seafood recipes you may like:
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Easy Indian Masala Prawns Curry
- 500 g Prawns Shelled and Cleaned
- 2 tbsp Oil
- 4 cloves Garlic crushed
- 1 inch Ginger crushed
- 1 tsp Green Chilli Paste
- 1 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp Ground Coriander
- ½ tsp Ground Turmeric
- ¾ tsp Red Chilli Powder
- 3 tbsp Natural Yoghurt Plain
- ½ Lemon Juice Only
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 tbsp Oil or Ghee
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 8 Curry Leaves
- 1 Onion Diced (Red or White)
- 200 g Plum Tomatoes Pureed
- 3 tbsp Tomato Puree
- 60 ml Water
- 1 - 2 tsp Garam Masala or Madras Curry Powder
- 1 - 2 tbsp Double Cream
- ½ Lemon Juice only
- Few Coriander Leaves
- Marinade the prawns for 5 minutes in all the ingredients listed under marinade.
- Add Oil to a pan. Then add Mustard Seeds and Curry Leaves. Cook for 1 minute. Then add onion. You can use red or white. Cook till golden brown - 6 - 7 minutes.
- Add Plum Tomato and Tomato Puree. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes on low.
- Add water and Garam Masala. Add prawns and cook for a further 3 - 5 minutes.
- Add a splash of Cream and stir through. Cook for 1 minute. (Optional).
- Garnish with Coriander and serve with a squeeze of Lemon Juice.