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Hot, sweet & sour Indian prawn curry

By Yvonne Ruperti
17 August 2012 5:15 PM Updated 17 Aug 2012

Hot, sweet & sour Indian prawn curry

This intensely flavoured hot and sour Indian curry has a thick onion and tomato base that’s sweetened with a bit of palm sugar. Coriander leaves added at the end of cooking add freshness. It’s traditionally served over yellow rice ― that’s easily made using regular rice and adding a few pinches of ground turmeric to the cooking water.


Recipe serves 4
Preparation time:
30 minutes
Cooking time:
30 minutes

1 rounded tablespoon tamarind pulp
¾ cup hot water
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons garam masala
1½ teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
10 shallots
8 large green chillies, chopped
8 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup peanut oil
4 large onions, finely chopped
2 sprigs curry, stalks discarded
8g palm sugar, grated
3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
600g prawns, peeled and deveined
1 cup coriander leaves

1. Soak the tamarind pulp in the hot water for 15 minutes and then strain, reserving the tamarind water.
2. With a mortar and pestle (or a dry spice grinder), grind the cumin seeds with the ground coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and chili flakes. Continue with the mortar and pestle or, if using a spice grinder, transfer the spices to a food processor and add shallots, green chillies, garlic and salt. Mash, or grind, to a thick paste.
3. In a large saucepan (or wok), heat the oil with the onions and curry leaves over medium heat. Cook until the onions have softened and are beginning to caramelise, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the chili paste and palm sugar, and cook until they begin to turn colour, about 5 to 10 minutes.
5. Add the tomatoes and tamarind water, and cook briefly to soften the tomatoes and thicken the sauce. The texture of the curry should be a very thick sauce.
6. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary (the curry should a balance of sweet, sour and hot.)
7. Add the prawns and coriander leaves, and cook briefly until the prawns are cooked through, about 1 minute.
8. Serve warm, with white or yellow boiled rice.



In her former life in the United States, Yvonne Ruperti was a pastry chef, bakery owner, magazine writer, and cooking show co-host on America’s Test Kitchen TV. Now based in Singapore, she still writes for and maintains her own food blog. When not at work, she is busy concocting up recipes for a new cookbook.

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