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Spicy Prawn and Cucumber Curry

A warming spicy prawn and cucumber curry dish from Madhur Jaffrey. The recipe combines a medley of Indian spices, red hot chillies and creamy coconut milk.

From the book


This curry is actually made with bottle gourd – a pale green vegetable, shaped like a bowling pin.You can easily use cucumber instead as its taste is similar when cooked. The origins of this Malay dish probably lie in India – the use of ground coriander and fennel seeds, as well as the final popping of seasonings in hot oil, all testify to that.

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275g (10oz) cucumber
100g (4oz) shallots or onions
6 garlic cloves
2 tbsp ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp ground fennel seeds
½–1tsp ground white pepper, or to taste
1tbsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp teaspoon ground turmeric
3–4 dried hot red chillies
350g (12oz) raw, headless prawns, peeled, de-veined and washed
¾–1tsp salt
1tsp sugar
400ml (14 fl oz) thick coconut milk
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp whole fennel seeds


Peel the cucumber and cut crossways into 1cm (½in) thick rounds. Peel the shallots and finely chop three quarters of them; finely slice the rest. Peel the garlic cloves. Chop four of them very finely; cut the other two into fine slivers. Combine the sliced shallots and slivered garlic and set these aside.

In a medium pan, combine the chopped shallots, chopped garlic, ground coriander seeds, ground fennel seeds, white pepper, cumin seeds, turmeric and 450ml (15fl oz) water. Crumble in the red chillies. Stir and bring to the boil. Boil, uncovered, on a fairly high heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the cucumber rounds and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the prawns, salt and sugar. Bring to a simmer again and simmer gently for about 1 minute, stirring the prawns around in the sauce. Give the coconut milk a good stir and pour it in. Bring the mixture to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 1 minute, stirring now and then.

Put the oil in a small frying pan and set over a medium–high heat. When hot, add the slivered shallots and garlic and stir-fry until they turn golden. Add the whole fennel seeds, stir once, then quickly pour the contents of the pan (oil and seasonings) into the pan containing the curry. Cover the curry pan immediately to trap all the aromas. Serve with rice.

Tip: if you cannot get ground fennel seeds, simply grind whole fennel seeds in a coffee grinder.



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From the book: My Kitchen Table: 100 Essential Curries

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