This prawn masala is perfect for a quick and easy curry night. Serve with rice and your favourite Indian bread for a complete meal.
What is a Prawn Masala?
The masala gets thrown around a lot when discussing Indian cuisine, but what does it mean? However, masala is best translated as spice, such as in the Indian spice mix garam masala. The spices used vary but usually combine to create an aromatic flavour profile. However, masala can sometimes refer to a spice paste as well.
Risking the obvious, the inclusion of prawns in this recipe is what makes this a prawn masala. In its simplest form, it’s a simple dish made from cooking prawns with spices. The recipe title can also seem misleading since a sauce, or gravy, is used to cook the seafood. Therefore, this dish would technically count as a curry.
Marinating Prawns for Prawn Masala
There’s a two-step process in making this prawn masala. Firstly, we need to marinate the prawns. It’s a simple marinade that aims to tenderise the prawns and impart flavour before they’re cooked in the aromatic sauce. Place all the ingredients into a small food processor or chopper to make the marinade and blitz until smooth. The paste should look bright green and vibrant, similar to a Thai green curry paste. This colour comes from green chillies and coriander stalks. Coriander stalks are often overlooked in cooking but have a great flavour.
This marinade will then be used to season your choice of prawns. When I first started cooking, I was a food snob, as opposed to anything that wasn’t fresh. However, fresh prawns involve much work before you can enjoy their sweet flesh. However, frozen food quality, especially seafood, has improved significantly. Defrost raw peeled prawns in the fridge and pan-fry as required.
Making the Sauce
Making a base sauce for this prawn masala or any curry may look complicated, but it’s pretty simple. Frying onions with whole spices and curry leaves gives the onions a deep, fragrant flavour. The sauce uses whole tomatoes instead of the usual canned tomatoes many recipes call for. However, I promise you’ll still get enough sauce to dab your naan bread into. I recommend a hand blender to blend the sauce as it’s easier, but you can also transfer to a standing food processor or blender if you have one.
Boatman Prawn Masala
- 1 Hand Blender
For the Prawns
- 300 g Raw King Prawns
- 40 ml Veg Oil
- 3 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Thumb Sized Piece of Ginger
- 2 Green Chillies
- 10 g Fresh Coriander Stalks
- 1 Tsp Cracked Black Pepper
- 1 Tsp Salt
- Juice from 1 Lemon
For The Sauce
- 45 ml Sunflower Oil
- 1 Tsp Black Mustard Seeds
- ½ Tsp Cumin Seeds
- 10 Curry Leaves
- 1 Onions Thinly Sliced
- 3 Garlic Cloves Finely Chopped
- 1 Thumb Sized Piece of Ginger Peeled and Grated
- ½ Tsp Ground Turmeric
- ¼ Tsp Chilli Powder
- 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
- ¼ Tsp. Black Pepper
- 1 Tsp Tomato Puree
- 6 Tomatoes Chopped
- 10 g Fresh Coriander. Chopped
- To marinade the prawns, place all the ingredients for the prawn marinade, minus the prawns, into a small chopper or food processor and blitz until smooth. Mix with the prawns and set aside for twenty minutes.
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a wok or a high-sided frying pan.
- Once hot, fry the onions with cumin, mustard, and curry leaves. Stirring prevents the onions from burning and protects the mustard seeds from scorching, or they’ll turn bitter.
- When the onions have begun to turn golden brown, add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli, ground coriander, black pepper, tomato puree, and chopped tomatoes. Add salt to taste.
- Cook for 6-7 minutes until the tomatoes break down. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
- Remove the sauce from the stove. Blend until smooth using a hand blender or standing blender. Add a splash of water if it’s too thick to blend.
- Return the sauce to the heat, and add the prawns and marinade, cover and cook for 6-7 minutes until the prawns are just cooked.
- Add salt to taste and finish with the chopped coriander.