Prawns in Coconut Masala

  • prep time5 min
  • total time 20 min
  • serves 6

This recipe can be served as an appetizer or passed around with drinks. On its own, the masala goes well with naan or rice. You can substitute canola oil for the ghee in this recipe but remember that you will lose some flavor. Don’t substitute butter. It is difficult to cook cumin seeds alone in butter, as you need to keep the heat relatively high and the butter ends up burning and sticking to the bottom of your pot. Also, use a good-quality coconut milk. You don’t use very much but you want to be able to taste it in your recipe. Adding a larger quantity of a low-quality coconut milk just makes this dish runny. If we can’t source any wild prawns, we use prawns farmed in the U.S., specifically California, rather than Asian-farmed tiger prawns. The farming practices of many tiger prawn farms in Asia are considered highly questionable by organizations monitoring healthy and/or sustainable seafoods. Prawns cook very quickly – 2 to 3 minutes on average – so watch them closely to avoid overcooking them.Courtesy of Meeru Dhalwala and Vikram Vij.

8 Ratings
Directions for: Prawns in Coconut Masala


30 prawns, shelled and de-veined

tsp salt

2 Tbsp ghee or canola oil

tsp cumin seeds

3 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

2 Tbsp coconut milk, stirred

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

tsp chopped green chilies

2 large onions, chopped

3 bunch bunches green onion, white and green parts, chopped


1. Place prawns in a colander and rinse under cold water. Allow excess water to drain. In a bowl, combine prawns and 1 tsp of the salt. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator while you are making the coconut masala.

2. In a large frying pan, melt ghee on medium-high heat (or heat oil for 1 minute). Add cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for 30 seconds. Add onions and sauté 5 to 8 minutes, or until dark brown, but not burned. Stir in tomatoes, coconut milk, vinegar, chilies and the remaining 1 tsp of salt. Cook for 5 minutes or until tomatoes are cooked through. Add green onions and stir well.

3. Add prawns, stirring constantly until they become pinkish-orange. This will take about 3 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat.

4. To serve: Place 5 prawns on each of six small shallow plates. Top each serving with one-sixth of the coconut masala. Alternatively, divide the coconut masala evenly among six small shallow plates, then top with 5 prawns per plate.

5. Wine: A Pouilly-Fume or Sancerre wine is a great sipping wine with this masala.

See more: Main, Shellfish, Indian, Hot and Spicy, Fry, Appetizer


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