December Recipes – Chili Prawn Masala


December Recipes – Chili Prawn Masala

by Alison Stuart

My family’s favourite ‘get together’ food are curry lunches with everyone contributing their favourite dish to the table.  I lived the early part of my life in Kenya where there was a large Indian population and one of my earliest memories is the smell of spices in the Indian ‘bazaar’.  In more recent years I lived for 3 years in Singapore where I expanded my repertoire of curry recipes through the teaching of a genial Indian lady, Kirti. This is one of Kirti’s recipes and now a firm family favourite.

While it is not exactly ‘seasonal’, I think it would do very nicely on a Christmas table. Apart from the essential ingredient being prawns, its tomato base gives it a gorgeous colour.


(for 3-4 people – I always make double quantities)


  • 500g unshelled green prawns
  • 2 large onions (cut lengthwise)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (cut into wedges)
  • 1 tsp of tomato paste
  • ½ tsp ginger paste
  • ½ tsp garlic paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ to 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • ¾ tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • lime or lemon juice to taste
  • 1-2 tblsps coriander leaves (chopped)
  • 3 tblsps vegetable oil


  1. Deshell and clean prawns, leaving tails intact (I buy the frozen packets of green prawns and defrost them). Wash and pat dry. Marinate with salt and ¼ tsp of turmeric powder.
  2. In a heavy based pan, fry the onions in oil until they change colour. Add the garlic and ginger paste,  crushed garlic and the chilli powder.
  3. Add in the salt, turmeric powder, tomatoes and tomato paste and fry well. You may cover the pan and cook on a low flame for 5 mins so that the tomatoes will get soft.
  4. When the masala is aromatic and richly coloured, add in the prawns. Keep on stirring until the prawns are well coated with the onion and tomato mixture.
  5. If mixture is too dry, add water. Stir and then allow the dish to simmer by covering and cooking on a low heat. Cook for around 10 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE PRAWNS.
  6. Lastly stir in the garam masala powder and turn off flame. Sprinkle with lemon/lime juice and garnish with coriander leaves.
  7. Serve with rice or Indian bread.


The second in a tantalising trilogy from award-winning author Alison Stuart, about warriors, the wounds they carry and the women that help them heal.

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