Instant Pot Goan Prawn Curry is a simple dish with complex flavors, with plump and tender prawns that sing with flavors from the curry
I grew up in Goa, and yes, growing up in Goa is every bit as wonderful as it is made out to be, perhaps even more! I love everything about life there, and I am so glad that my parents decided to stay back in Goa post-retirement, instead of returning to their state of origin, Kerala. The Goan way of life is like no other: warm, friendly, peaceful, culturally rich…and that’s just a scratching the surface of it. The same can be said of Goan food as well. Goan food makes the most of its Portuguese influences and the availability of fresh seafood.
This Instant Pot Goan Prawn Curry is a simplistic version of a traditional Goan prawn curry. I have used ingredients such as curry leaves and tamarind pulp which may not be readily available in many non-Indian household pantries but if you can get hold of these, your curry with sing with flavor! Please don’t skip them. In Switzerland, frozen and dried curry leaves are available at all Indian and Sri-Lankan stores.
Tips for Cooking with Prawns:
- Fresh prawns are certainly preferable to frozen, but if you have no access to fresh prawns, then frozen isn’t too bad an option. I used frozen prawns available at local Swiss supermarkets. Make sure you let them thaw before you add them to the gravy. Thawing prawns takes 15 minutes if you keep a packet of frozen prawns in a bowl of room-temperature water.
- Make sure you clean your prawns by removing the infamous ‘poop chute’, aka, the intestinal tract, before you cook them.
- Prawns do not need to be cooked on the stove-top for longer than 4 minutes, else they tend to get tough and chewy.
Can I cook Instant Pot Goan Prawn Curry on the Stove-top?
- The stove-top version of Prawns curry, although time-honored and traditionally the right way to make this curry, stands the risk of overcooking the prawns and making them tough. The prawns need time to soak up that flavor from the gravy, yet, need to remain tender and not over-cooked.
- I find that the Instant Pot renders the prawns beautifully soft and tender when cooked for the right time on the ‘Manual’ setting (newer versions of the IP have this as ‘Pressure Cook’). Pressure cooking the curry infuses the prawns with flavor from the curry.
- Let the steam release from the IP with a ‘Quick Release’ i.e., turn the valve from sealing to venting position to release the steam quickly. You can use a spatula if you prefer not to use your fingers to turn the valve. Once all the steam has released, the pressure valve comes down and the IP lid is safe to open. Take a look at this video that explains the Quick Release function.
Here is a video on how to make my version of Instant Pot Goan prawn curry:
There are not many culinary pleasures that can match the joy that comes with enjoying a bowl of prawns curry served over warm, steamed rice. A simple dish with complex flavors, and one that reminds me of home!
For more Instant Pot recipe ideas, do take a look at:
Instant Pot Goan Prawn Curry
- 300 grams prawns (shelled and de-veined, deforested if using frozen prawns)
- 1 tablespoon Coconut oil
- 1 Red onion (large) chopped
- 2 Green chillies (Slit and de-seeded if needed)
- 4 cloves Garlic (finely chopped or minced)
- 1 Tomato chopped
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon Cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon Coriander powder
- 1/3 cup Tamarind pulp (see notes)
- 9-10 Curry leaves (Fresh, frozen or dried)
- 1/2 cup Coconut milk
- Salt 1 Teaspoon (adjust this as per your taste)
For the coconut paste:
- 1 cup Grated coconut (see notes)
- 1 cup Water
- Turn the IP to 'Saute' mode in the 'More' setting.
- While the IP starts to heat, prepare the ground coconut paste. In a mixer or food processor, add the the ground coconut and water and grind it until it just comes together. Do not aim for a smooth paste, leave it coarse. Keep this aside.
- Add the coconut oil, followed by the chopped red onions, the finely chopped garlic and the slit green chilies.
- Stir for around 2 minutes. Then add the chopped tomatoes and stir for another minute, until the tomatoes start to soften. Add the turmeric, coriander powder and cumin and stir.
- Add the ground coconut paste, and mix it well with the rest of the ingredients in the IP. Then add the tamarind pulp and mix well.
- Add the curry leaves and stir. Add the coconut milk and mix well to combine.
- Add the prawns and mix well.
- Put on the lid of the IP, and with the vent in 'sealing' position, switch to 'Manual' mode, in 'Low Pressure' setting. Set the time for 2 minutes. Let the prawns cook. Once done, the IP will beep. Do a 'Quick Release' ie, turn the valve from sealing to venting position to release the steam quickly. You can use a spatula if you prefer not to use your fingers to turn the valve. Once all the steam has released, the pressure valve comes down and the IP lid is safe to open. Take a look at this video that explains the Quick Release function.
- Open the lid, add the salt to season the curry, and mix it well. Serve the prawn curry with some steamed rice.
- Tamarind pulp can be make from store-bought tamarind paste and a little water. Mix together 1/4 cup of concentrated tamarind paste in 1/4 cup of warm water. Stir to combine. You can also use fresh tamarind if you don't have access to store-bought tamarind paste. Break off a piece of tamarind and soak it in enough warm water to just immerse it. After soaking for 30 minutes, gently break the tamarind apart with your hands. The paste will separate from the fibers. Using a sieve, Strain out the pulp.
- Grated coconut can be made fresh, by grinding coconut slices, or use frozen grated coconut, available in Indian and Sri-Lankan stores in Switzerland. Optionally, use desiccated coconut available in all Swiss supermarkets and soak it in warm water for around 20 minutes. Once soaked, prepare the coconut paste by grinding it with the water.