Authentic Indian Prawn Masala Recipe

Prawn Masala
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  • 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Ratings (74)

Prawn masala is simple yet delicious and, like many Indian dishes, it is packed with flavor. The recipe is quite easy and most of the ingredients are those great spices we expect in Indian cuisine, so don't let the list scare you off.

The recipe involves two steps: a marinade and a masala gravy. The nice thing is that the prawns are marinated only as long as it takes to make the gravy, so the recipe really doesn't take much time at all.

The trick, however, is to cook the prawns quickly or they will get rubbery and chewy. If you don't have prawns or shrimp, you can make this with skinless, boneless chicken pieces and it is just as delicious.

What You'll Need

  • 17 ounces/500 grams large prawns (or shrimp; raw, peeled, deveined, and washed)
  • For the Marinade:
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup coriander (fresh)
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (vegetable, canola, or sunflower)
  • For the Gravy:
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 large onions (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 2 large tomatoes (diced)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander (powder)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili (powder)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala (powder)
  • 1 dash salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup water (boiling)
  • Garnish: coriander (chopped)

How to Make It

Marinate the Prawns

  1. In a blender, combine all of the marinade ingredients and grind until it's a smooth paste.
  2. In a large, non-metallic bowl, place the prawns and pour the marinade over them. Mix to coat all the prawns well.
  3. Cover the bowl and store in the refrigerator to marinate while you make the gravy.

Prepare the Masala Gravy

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat 4 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium heat.
  1. When the cooking oil is hot, add the chopped onion. Sauté until the onions begin to turn a pale golden brown color.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger pastes and sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes, all the powdered spices, and salt to taste. Mix well.
  4. Sauté the masala (onion-tomato-spice mixture) until the oil begins to separate from it. This can take up to 10 minutes. 
  5. When the masala begins to look ready, turn off the heat.
  6. Put the prepared masala into the food processor and grind into a smooth paste (do not add water). Remove and place in a separate container.

Finish the Dish

  1. Using the same frying pan as before, turn the heat on medium.
  2. Once it is very hot, add the prawns and marinade and sauté until the prawns just begin to turn opaque.
  3. Add the prepared masala and 1/4 cup boiling water and stir well.
  4. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes and turn off the heat.
  5. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with chapatis (Indian flatbread) or plain or jeera (cumin) rice and kachumber salad.