My Favourite Fast and Healthy Prawn Curry

There’s only so much brisket, spaghetti, ribs and wings a woman can eat before she gets fat. I know it’s getting cold and all but I’m not so cool with the idea of an extra layer of blubber on top of the existing layers that I’ve spent the last few years nurturing to maturity. It’s impossible to stay thin in the food game, unless you’ve got great genes or you can find the time and energy to exercise 7 days a week.

When I start having a panic, I turn to trusty old recipes like this, which I’ve been cooking since I was a teenager. It’s adapted from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe (in her classic ‘Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery’ – donated by my mum) and it’s grown with me over the years as I’ve tinkered with the ingredients; every so often I turn to the tattered old notebook, to a familiar page covered in splodges, scribbles and crispy old bits of coriander that fall out like confetti.

I love the recipe because the flavours remain very fresh and distinct and it’s quite cardamom heavy; Madhur uses 6 pods and I chuck in one of the big black smoky variety too because I’m well rock’ n roll like that. I don’t even remove the cardamom pods at the end in fact, as I love the burst of flavour when you bite into one; all softened and bloated with sauce.

The final result is wonderfully fragrant, it’s fast and simple to make and you feel virtuous yet satisfied. Tick, tick and tick.

Fast and Healthy Prawn Curry (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery; serves 4)

1 large white onion
5 cloves garlic
1 inch cube ginger
2 red chillies
1 cinnamon stick
6 regular cardamom pods
1 large black cardamom pod
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1 tin chopped tomatoes
A pinch of sugar
450g large prawns (raw or cooked is up to you)
Vegetable or groundnut oil

Fresh coriander
1/4 teaspoon garam masala

Put the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies in a blender with 3 tablespoons of water and blend to a paste. Put the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan on a low heat and heat them, moving them around, until they start to smell fragrant. Tip them into a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and grind to a paste (you can use ready ground if you like but the results will not be as delicious).

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Stir for about 30 seconds and add the paste from the blender. Cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes, until the liquid has cooked off. Add the cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so. Add the chopped tomatoes. Stir and keep cooking until you have a reddish-brown paste.

Take the pan off the heat and add the yoghurt, 1 tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated. Add the turmeric, cayenne and sugar along with half a pint of water. Bring to the boil then simmer vigorously until thickened. Taste, then season with salt and pepper. Add the prawns – if you are using raw prawns, cook until they have turned completely pink. If using pre-cooked prawns, add them for a few minutes only, just to warm through.

Stir in the garam masala then serve, sprinkled with fresh coriander.

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29 thoughts on “My Favourite Fast and Healthy Prawn Curry

  1. Ahhhh! My mum has been making this for YEARS (she adds golden raisins sometimes, weird but it works). The cardamom really makes it. She got the recipe from a friend of ours so I’ve always known it as Jacques Raad’s Prawn Curry. Sorry Madhur.

  2. Cheers for this recipe! Just cooked it this evening and it turned out fantastically. Nice and spicy with loads of flavour – and enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Nice. This one will definitely be coming out again.

  3. Madhur Jaffrey is the best. My dad has the same book, but I’m not even allowed to borrow it – apparently the thought of being without the rogan josh recipe for even one day is too much. There’s a really nice kidney bean curry in there too as I recall.

  4. I’m going to try this, probably with fish since prawns are hard to come by here. The black cardamom has such a strong smell, I’m afraid to use it in my cooking. Does it mellow out?

  5. Good old Madhur never fails. My fail safe, relatively healthy Indian dish is cabbage and cauliflower bhaji. I always think it can’t be bad for me.

    This looks seriously tasty, and I even have prawns in the freezer.

    You’re a braver woman than I on the chowing down on cardamom pods front though. Bleugh!

  6. This looks just the thing for a household battling against bastarding cold and flu germs. Interestingly, it’s the second food-blog recipe I’ve seen in the past couple of days which calls for lots and lots of fresh spices. Which means I now have NO excuse and actually have to address the shocking state of my spice drawer. (If one thing in my house was to show me up for the houseslut I have become, it’s that poor languishing spice drawer. I spose I could start by removing all the leaking biros, sellotape rolls, ancient receipts etc from it).
    (PS – I’m a new reader – came via Recipe Rifle – and this is a truly lovely blog)

  7. This is a big problem with food, eating it (or too much at least) does result in unwanted spare tyres.

    WTF is that all about Helen? EH? Someone is laughing somewhere, I can tell you that.

    Nice, HEALTHY, recipe though

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