My Favourite Healthy Prawn Curry

October 19, 2011


Healthy Prawn Curry

There’s only so much brisket, spaghetti, ribs and wings a woman can eat before she gets fat. I know it’s getting cold and all but I’m not so cool with the idea of an extra layer of blubber on top of the existing layers that I’ve spent the last few years nurturing to maturity. It’s impossible to stay thin in the food game, unless you’ve got great genes or you can find the time and energy to exercise 7 days a week.

When I start having a panic, I turn to trusty old recipes like this, which I’ve been cooking since I was a teenager. It’s adapted from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe (in her classic ‘Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery’ – donated by my mum) and it’s grown with me over the years as I’ve tinkered with the ingredients; every so often I turn to the tattered old notebook, to a familiar page covered in splodges, scribbles and crispy old bits of coriander that fall out like confetti.

I love the recipe because the flavours remain very fresh and distinct and it’s quite cardamom heavy; Madhur uses 6 pods and I chuck in one of the big black smoky variety too because I’m well rock’ n roll like that. I don’t even remove the cardamom pods at the end in fact, as I love the burst of flavour when you bite into one; all softened and bloated with sauce.

The final result is wonderfully fragrant, it’s fast and simple to make and you feel virtuous yet satisfied. Tick, tick and tick.

Fast and Healthy Prawn Curry

(adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery; serves 4)

1 large white onion
5 cloves garlic
1 inch cube ginger
2 red chillies
1 cinnamon stick
6 regular cardamom pods
1 large black cardamom pod
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1 tin chopped tomatoes
A pinch of sugar
450g large prawns (raw or cooked is up to you)
Vegetable or groundnut oil

Fresh coriander
1/4 teaspoon garam masala

Put the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies in a blender with 3 tablespoons of water and blend to a paste. Put the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan on a low heat and heat them, moving them around, until they start to smell fragrant. Tip them into a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and grind to a paste (you can use ready ground if you like but the results will not be as delicious).

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Stir for about 30 seconds and add the paste from the blender. Cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes, until the liquid has cooked off. Add the cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so. Add the chopped tomatoes. Stir and keep cooking until you have a reddish-brown paste. This takes a while – around 10-15 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and add the yoghurt, 1 tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated. Add the turmeric, cayenne and sugar along with half a pint of water. Bring to the boil then simmer vigorously until thickened. Taste, then season with salt and pepper. Add the prawns – if you are using raw prawns, cook until they have turned completely pink. If using pre-cooked prawns, add them for a few minutes only, just to warm through.

Stir in the garam masala then serve, sprinkled with fresh coriander.

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  • Avatar
    Reply zuko October 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Bookmarked, this looks delish!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 19, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      Great, I hope you enjoy it!

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    Reply Food Urchin October 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    This is a big problem with food, eating it (or too much at least) does result in unwanted spare tyres.

    WTF is that all about Helen? EH? Someone is laughing somewhere, I can tell you that.

    Nice, HEALTHY, recipe though

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      I bet it’s those thin bastards laughing.

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    Reply Reluctant Launderer October 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    This looks just the thing for a household battling against bastarding cold and flu germs. Interestingly, it’s the second food-blog recipe I’ve seen in the past couple of days which calls for lots and lots of fresh spices. Which means I now have NO excuse and actually have to address the shocking state of my spice drawer. (If one thing in my house was to show me up for the houseslut I have become, it’s that poor languishing spice drawer. I spose I could start by removing all the leaking biros, sellotape rolls, ancient receipts etc from it).
    (PS – I’m a new reader – came via Recipe Rifle – and this is a truly lovely blog)

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      Yeah, get those spices in! You know you’ll use them…

      Good to welcome you here and glad you like the blog!

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    Reply Lizzie October 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    That is a great plate.

    I love prawn curries, I don’t make enough of them really as meaty ones are so very tempting. Is it Khan’s that you get the black cardamom?

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      It is indeed! Just set aside a good 20 minutes to find them in that spice aisle. Wowzers.

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    Reply shona chambers October 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I REALLY want this dish now, sound so warming and spicy.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 19, 2011 at 7:15 pm

      It certainly is both those things. Delish.

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    Reply Su-Lin October 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    YES! Another excuse to eat more seafood… I need to buy some frozen prawns for the freezer.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      MORE SEAFOOD PLEASE! I can’t stop.

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    Reply Sharmila October 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Good old Madhur never fails. My fail safe, relatively healthy Indian dish is cabbage and cauliflower bhaji. I always think it can’t be bad for me.

    This looks seriously tasty, and I even have prawns in the freezer.

    You’re a braver woman than I on the chowing down on cardamom pods front though. Bleugh!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 20, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      She’s a ledge alright. I do love me a chew on those pods!

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    Reply thelittleloaf October 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Great post. I make this kind of curry quite a lot and it’s great for making yourself feel virtuous. My nemesis is cakes and baked things rather than lots of meat, but other than that I’m totally with you 🙂

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    Reply Sarah October 20, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I’m going to try this, probably with fish since prawns are hard to come by here. The black cardamom has such a strong smell, I’m afraid to use it in my cooking. Does it mellow out?

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm

      Yes, and you’re only using one. Give it a whirl!

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    Reply Ailsa October 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Madhur Jaffrey is the best. My dad has the same book, but I’m not even allowed to borrow it – apparently the thought of being without the rogan josh recipe for even one day is too much. There’s a really nice kidney bean curry in there too as I recall.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

      I know the rogan josh recipe well! Delicious. It’s a gem for sure. You can probably buy it for about a quid on e-bay I reckon.

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    Reply Sally - My Custard Pie October 22, 2011 at 11:24 am

    That Madhur book got lost in our travels somewhere – great reminder of an old favourite. Don’t give up on the ribs and brisket though. Life’s too short.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 22, 2011 at 12:37 pm

      ha ha, don’t worry I WON’T!

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    Reply Neil T October 22, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Cheers for this recipe! Just cooked it this evening and it turned out fantastically. Nice and spicy with loads of flavour – and enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Nice. This one will definitely be coming out again.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      Brilliant, really glad you enjoyed it.

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    Reply Tv Food and Drink October 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    “Fragrant” is the word that popped into my head as soon as I saw that lead picture. Way to rope in your readers! SUCCESS!

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    Reply robin wood October 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    That looks great, those recipes we have that are worth cooking regularly for years are worth so much. I am defo going to give this one a go.

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    Reply curlywurlyfi October 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Ahhhh! My mum has been making this for YEARS (she adds golden raisins sometimes, weird but it works). The cardamom really makes it. She got the recipe from a friend of ours so I’ve always known it as Jacques Raad’s Prawn Curry. Sorry Madhur.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      Brill! I love how these recipes get around, even if poor Mads didn’t get the proper credit.

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    Reply the_wu October 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Just made this tonite, really, really tasty.

    Though a little on the hot side for the missus 🙂

    Thanks Helen.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen October 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm

      Great, really glad you liked it. Sorry it was a bit hot for your lady but I guess it means more for you…

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