Fragrant Prawn Curry – South East Asia on a plate…

Posted: March 24, 2014 in Curry, Little Thumbs Up!, Main Course, Savoury, Shellfish, South East Asian, Spicy, Vegetarian
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Most people think that all curries are very hot. This is NOT true.

There are many variations of curry, from mild to fairly hot to extremely hot, from sweet to sour-ish, from green to yellow to red, from light (“dry”) to thick (“wet”) curry, from vegetarian to seafood to meat curry.

Curry was anglicised (adopted) from the Tamil word “kari”, meaning – simply – “sauce” and curry powder, is (unfortunately) a Western notion of a commercially prepared spiced mixture 😀

The most traditional South Asian curries are paste-based and definitely homemade. Even the powder form are home blended to attain the best result and aroma.

Malaysian curry is quite complex, using several different fresh herbs and dry spices as opposed to some curries using only dry spices or fresh herbs, one or the other. Malaysian curry is largely influenced by the flavours of Southern India while at the same time, intermingling with flavours of South East Asia, which can be rather hot, but fragrant. Curry leaves are commonly added to enhance the flavour of the curry dish. Then there’s the Nyonya curry which includes a secret ingredient, the belacan (dried shrimp paste). Potatoes and fresh tomatoes are often added as final touches to a tasty Nyonya curry. Sometimes pandan leaves (screw pine leaves) are used to aromatize the curry dish.

Being a curry person, I love all kinds of curries. A curry dish is really quite simple to cook.

For this post, I’m concocting a curry dish with prawns using fresh herbs of my choice. No dry spices. This curry dish includes flavours of South East Asia – lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, ginger, coriander roots and fresh turmeric besides the inevitable ingredients of fresh chillies, shallots, onions and garlic. I did not blend the ingredients into a paste but kept them apart for texture.

1. Fragrant prawn curry_ingredients for sauté 

I used 2 lemongrass (lightly bruised and halved), a handful of kaffir lime leaves (shredded), 3cm piece galangal (sliced), 5cm piece ginger (minced), 6 coriander roots (minced), 3cm piece fresh turmeric (minced), 1 large onion (chopped finely), 4 shallots (chopped finely), 4 cloves garlic (minced) and 2 fresh chillies.

Wait a sec…only 2 chillies?

Well, I did use something else! Something I always have in my fridge.

I added a teaspoon each – to taste of course – of the shrimp paste (which is actually NOT belacan, but fried dried shrimps in bean oil, the Thai way), Malaysian curry powder AND last but not least, the “fiery” Mae Pranom Shrimp Flavor Crushed Chillies. Really, a little goes a long way 😉

2. Fragrant prawn curry_shrimp paste + curry powder 

 And of course, the star of the dish – the Prawns!

3. Fragrant prawn curry_raw prawns 

If you have counted the number of prawns on the plate, that’s how many prawns I used for this curry dish. Thirty-three prawns 😀

Let’s get started!

Here’s how I cooked my fragrant prawn curry.

Remember there was no curry paste? So what went in first were the chopped ingredients – the onion and shallots. Sauté until fragrant, then add all the minced ingredients – garlic, ginger, coriander roots and fresh turmeric. Keep stirring and then add in the slices of galangal, shredded kaffir lime leaves, curry powder, shrimp paste and the fiery crushed chillies. Then in went 400ml can coconut milk, the lemongrass, potatoes and fresh whole chillies (slit lengthways). Season to taste.

4. Fragrant prawn curry_sauté_paste

Cook for a few minutes to amalgamate the ingredients in the curry or until the potatoes are par-cooked, then add 3 tomatoes (skinned) and quartered.

5. Fragrant prawn curry_sauté_tomatoes +potatoes 

Simmer for 2 minutes before adding the prawns

Well, we all know that it is a sin to overcook prawns; that’s why I left the crustaceans last to complete the curry dish. Stir to combine the prawns in the curry sauce. Simmer for a few minutes more.

6. Fragrant prawn curry_sauté_prawns raw

You will know if the dish is ready when the potatoes and prawns are cooked, and when the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Give the dish a final taste before plating up.

 7. Fragrant prawn curry_sauté_prawns cooked

Worth repeating …

 8. Fragrant prawn curry_plate up1

 10. Fragrant prawn curry_plate up3

9. Fragrant prawn curry_plate up2

This fragrant prawn curry was so good that I will definitely cook it again for sure. It was just perfect the way it should be. I try to avoid using sugar in my curries (which is very common with Thai or Vietnamese curries). I really thought it was not necessary to add sugar as the rich coconut milk gave the dish a subtle sweet taste; furthermore, my other half detests sweet curries.

Oh by the way, both my sons had second helping that day…

Need I say more? 

I rest my case 😉

I am submitting this post to Little Thumbs up with the March 2014 theme using “PRAWNSas the main ingredient hosted by Moon of Food Playground. The LTU blog-hop project is organised by two very talented and superwomen, Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids.


Have a super week!



  1. Zoe says:

    I think your curry is more like the Thai-style ones… and interestingly with no curry paste!!! My 5 yo freaked out every time I say the word curry… To him, all curries are hot and he refuses to try any at all… hmmm. I don’t think he will even consider your curry with just 2 chilies. Of course, my husband and I will 😀

  2. Doreen says:

    Hi Nasifriet,
    Aiyoyo! Your curry prawns is making me drooling 😀 33 prawns!! Wish I could have a serving of your curry prawns now 😉 I love all types of curries too.
    Can I add fish fillet into this curry?

    Between I have a simple Lui Cha recipe will share soon.
    Have a great week ahead!

  3. Nasifriet says:

    Ha ha ha! When my sons were younger, they said exactly the same thing your 5yr old son said, but now they are teenagers. They love a hot curry anytime 😄.

  4. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Doreen😊

    You can surely have some of the curry. 😜 Yes, you can use fish as well, but preferably the ones that do not disintegrate in the sauce immediately. Or make a seafood curry with prawns, cockles, fish filets and squids. Mmmmm… Yum!

    Oooh… Can’t wait for the Lui cha recipe. 👍 Kam sia …

  5. Chris says:


    You have to stop torturing me with all the delicious curries, sambal, and kway teow. 🙂 If only we are neighbors, I’ll bake and you’ll cook and we’ll have a complete meal all the time. 🙂


  6. Nasifriet says:

    Ha ha ha! So well said, Chris. Come, move over to Belgium! I need neighbours like you😀. Miss all the chiffons, Swiss rolls etc..😫

    Big hug

  7. jeannietay says:

    Hi! I am drooling over your prawns curry, I too am a huge fan of prawns and believe me when I say I can finish all 33 prawns all by myself:D

  8. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Jeannie, thanks!

    I love prawns in any form, a good protein sub for meat. We try to have meat-less day or 2 in a week. Curry prawns is the right choice as it’s so appetising 😄

  9. Zoe says:

    Your sons are teenagers now!!! How old are you???

    I wish that my son is being teenager soon but don’t like the idea of me being 10 years older :p

  10. Nasifriet says:

    Yes, my sons are teenagers now !!!! Yikes! 😁The younger one was just promoted to the TEEN age world recently. He turned thirTEEN and the older one is 17!! Double YIKES 😄.

    Zoe, time flies you know and before u know, your son will be one as well. The most difficult stage is 15 to 17…at least for me..😫

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