Shrimp curry or prawn curry is an authentic recipe from the coastal state of Goa in India. Shrimp is simmered in a curry made with coconut, green chilies, curry leaves and spices. A delicious curry that beats what you get at any Indian restaurant!
(Original recipe published in 2018, updated with stovetop instructions in addition to Instant Pot instructions)
There are not many culinary pleasures that can match the joy that comes with enjoying a bowl of shrimp curry served over rice! I grew up in Goa, the coastal state in the South of India. The Goan way of life is like no other: warm, friendly, culturally rich....and the same can be said of Goan food as well. Goan food is known for its deliciously comforting, flavorful curries such as Fish curry and Goan shrimp curry - these curries are part of the staple cuisine and are made in Goan homes very often. They taste absolutely brilliant with a bowl of basmati rice!
What is Goan Shrimp Curry?
This Goan Shrimp Curry aka, Goan Prawn Curry an Indian curry that is native to the coastal state of Goa. It is characterized by the use of freshly grated coconut and coconut milk. Curry leaves and mustard seeds are often added whole, and usually, a souring agent such as kokum or tamarind pulp is used to give it a slightly tart taste.
List of Ingredients
To make Goan shrimp curry, you will need:
Fresh or frozen shrimp: Use shrimp that is preferable with tails on, this will give the curry more flavor from the shell. Do not use cooked shrimp, as the shrimp will be overcooked in the curry.
Coconut: Use either fresh or frozen coconut. I have used frozen coconut slivers that I get at my local Indian store. Optionally, use desiccated coconut that is available in most supermarkets.
Garlic cloves: Use fresh garlic – at least 3-4 cloves
Green Chilies: Use 2-3 green chilies or birds eye chilies. If you want to keep the curry low on spice, omit the chilies and add a teaspoon of paprika instead.
Onion: Use diced red or yellow onions
Spices: You will need turmeric powder, ground cumin powder, coriander powder for the shrimp curry
Whole spices: Whole black mustard seeds, and whole curry leaves (use fresh or frozen)
Tomatoes: You can use either a whole fresh tomato or tinned tomatoes
Tamarind pulp: This is a souring agent and is used to give the curry a slightly tart taste. I used store-bought tamarind paste diluted in a little water.
Oil: Use coconut oil for the most authentic taste. Vegetable oils will not give the shrimp curry as much flavor.
Salt to season
Sugar – a pinch of sugar will help balance out the flavors.
How to Make Goan Shrimp Curry
To make shrimp curry on the stove top, you wil need a large pot such as a Dutch oven or any heavy bottom pot. Start by heating the pot on the stovetop. Add the coconut oil and let it heat. Once hot, add the mustard seeds. Wait for them to start to crackle. Them add the chopped onions and diced garlic.
Stir with a spatula. Add the slit green chilies and the curry leaves. Stir again.
Then add the spice powders - turmeric, cumin and coriander powders. Add the tinned tomatoes (or diced fresh tomato) and give it a mix. Lower the heat to medium-low.
In a blender, blend the coconut (fresh of frozen) with 1/2 cup of water for just under a minute. Once the coconut becomes a coarse paste, add it to pot and stir. Add the coconut milk and salt to season. Let this simmer on the stovetop for 5 minutes on medium heat.
After simmering for 5 minutes, add the prawns, followed by the tamarind water. Add a pinch of sugar. Stir with a spatula and cook the shrimp for 5 minutes until it is pink. Turn off the heat. Do not overcook the shrimp else they will turn rubbery.
Your authentic Goan-style shrimp curry is now ready to be served with a a side of basmati rice!
Shrimp Curry in the Instant Pot
The stove-top version of Prawns 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. You can also make the Shrimp Curry in the Instant Pot instead of the stovetop (see video for the detailed recipe). The advantages of cooking shrimp curry in the Instant pot are mainly:
- Mostly hands-off, hardly and monitoring necessary
- No risk of overcooking the shrimp!
Tips for Cooking with Shrimps
- Fresh prawns are certainly preferable to frozen, but if you have no access to fresh prawns, then frozen shrimp is a good option. Make sure you let the frozen shrimp 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 4-5 minutes, else they tend to get tough and chewy. In the Instant Pot, pressure cook shrimps for 2 minutes, then release the pressure manually.
Similar Indian Recipes for you to try
Shrimp Curry Recipe
- 300 grams Shrimp, preferably with tails on (deforested if using frozen prawns)
- 1 tablespoon Coconut oil
- 1 Large onion chopped
- 2 Green chillies (Slit and de-seeded if needed)
- 4 cloves Garlic (finely chopped or minced)
- 1 Tomato or used tinned tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon Cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon Coriander powder
- ⅓ cup Tamarind water (see notes)
- 9-10 Curry leaves (Fresh, frozen or dried)
- ½ cup Coconut milk
- 1 tsp Salt (adjust this as per your taste)
For the coconut paste:
- 1 cup Grated coconut (see notes)
- 1 cup Water
Instant Pot Instructions
- 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 water or tamarind paste 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 'Pressure Cook' 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.
- Open the lid, add the salt to season the curry, and mix it well. Serve the prawn curry with some steamed rice.
- Start by heating a large pot on the stovetop. Add the coconut oil and let it heat up.
- Once hot, add the mustard seeds. Wait for them to start to crackle. Then add the chopped onions and diced garlic.
- Stir with a spatula. Add the slit green chilies and the curry leaves. Stir again.
- Then add the spice powders - turmeric, cumin, and coriander powders. Add the tinned tomatoes (or diced fresh tomato) and give it a mix. Lower the heat to medium-low.
- In a blender, blend the coconut (fresh or frozen) with 1/2cup of water for just under a minute. Once the coconut becomes a coarse paste, add it to the pot and stir. Add the coconut milk and salt to season. Let this simmer on the stovetop for 5 minutes on medium heat.
- After simmering for 5 minutes, add the prawns, followed by the tamarind water. Add a pinch of sugar. Stir with a spatula and cook the shrimp for 5 minutes until it is pink. Turn off the heat. Do not overcook the shrimp else they will turn rubbery.
- Your authentic Goan-style shrimp curry is now ready to be served with a side of basmati rice!
- Tamarind water can be made 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. Optionally, use desiccated coconut.