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A plate full of Prawn curry with Pol Sambal and rice

Sri Lankan Prawn Curry

A wonderful main dish to give you a taste of Sri Lanka
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4
Calories 287kcal
Author Darlene at International Cuisine



    Prawns /Shrimp

    • 1 lb large shrimp or prawns head-on about 20 shrimp
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp Sri Lankan Curry Powder

    Prawn/ shrimp Curry

    • 3 tbsp coconut oil
    • 4 garlic cloves minced
    • 1 inch piece ginger, minced
    • 1 medium sweet onion chopped finely
    • 1 Tbsp Sri Lankan Curry Powder
    • ½ tsp ground fennel
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • ½ tsp ground black pepper
    • 12 curry leaves
    • 3 pandan leaves
    • cup coconut milk
    • cup water
    • 2 fresh red chili peppers more or less to your heat tolerance
    • 2 Tbsp lime juice
    • 1 Tbsp Cilantro chopped, finely



      Preparing the Prawns/Shrimp

      • Clean the prawns/shrimp by removing the heads (if using) and setting them aside.
      • Peel the shell, leaving the tails intact and de-vein the shrimp.
      • Rinse the prawns/shrimp and prawns/shrimp heads separately.
      • Sprinkle the salt and curry powder over the shrimp and mix well and set aside to marinate while you cook the curry.

      Prawn/Shrimp Curry

      • Heat a frying pan over medium high heat, and add the coconut oil.
      • Add the prawn/shrimp heads to the pan if using.
      • Cook the prawn/shrimp heads for about 5 -10 minutes until the heads become crispy and caramelized. If not using the heads proceed to the next step.
      • Add the onion, ginger, garlic, a generous pinch of salt and reduce the heat to medium and cook the shrimp heads until they soften - a few minutes.
      • Add the curry powder, fennel powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, curry leaves and stir frequently for about 5 minutes, until the spices are fragrant and have formed a paste with the onion, garlic and ginger.
      • Add the coconut milk, 2/3 cup water, fresh red chili pepper, lime juice and stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
      • Cover and simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes until the mixture is thick.
      • Add the peeled prawns/shrimp into the curry base and gently mix to combine and completely coat the prawn/shrimp with the sauce. Add a bit of water if the sauce is too thick, or you would like more sauce.
      • While stirring, bring the mix to a boil. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or just until the prawns/shrimp is cooked through and is pink. Season with salt to taste.
      • Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid and let the prawns/shrimp sit in the sauce for a few minutes.
      • Sprinkle cilantro to garnish if using, and serve with steamed Basamati rice . Enjoy!


      Calories: 287kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 286mg | Sodium: 1040mg | Potassium: 286mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 579IU | Vitamin C: 76mg | Calcium: 212mg | Iron: 4mg