Hyderabadi Masala Prawns

This gorgeous dish typifies the flavours of Hyderabad, a southern Indian city known for its excellent food. It is spicy, fiery and really moreish—perfect for those who love strong flavours.


Serves 4 to 5


500g raw prawns, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons red chilli powder
1½ teaspoons salt, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2.5cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 star anise
3 cloves
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
10 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
15g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
20-25 fresh curry leaves, finely chopped
1 green chilli pepper, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon de-seeded tamarind chunk
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves and stems


Rinse the prawns and drain well. Add the ground turmeric, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Place the tamarind in a small non-reactive bowl and add ⅓ cup/85ml warm water. Mash the tamarind with your fingers to dissolve as much of the pulp in water. Gather up the remaining non-dissolvable pulp, squeeze out the juice and discard. Reserve the juice.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over low heat. Add the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, and cumin seeds and fry until fragrant. Add the onions, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until well-browned, 12-15 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, curry leaves, green chilli pepper and bay leaves, and cook, covered, until you can smell the cooked garlic, about 3 minutes.

Add the prawns and the reserved tamarind juice. Gently stir to coat the prawns with the spice mixture and then spread them out in the pan, cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until cooked. In the last few minutes of cooking, remove the lid to allow excess moisture to evaporate—you can increase the heat a little if necessary (this should be a dry curry). Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. Remove from the heat.

Garnish with coriander and serve hot.


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