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Chettinad Prawns Curry

Updated: May 20

Chettinad Prawns Curry

Chettinad Prawns Curry is a celebrated dish hailing from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu, South India. This flavorful curry embodies the essence of Chettinad cuisine, renowned for its bold, aromatic, and spicy flavors.

Total Coking Time

40 minutes



Number of servings


At the heart of Chettinad Prawns Curry are succulent prawns, freshly caught and marinated with a mixture of red chili powder, turmeric, and salt. These flavorful prawns take center stage in a spicy and rich gravy made from a symphony of spices. The key to this curry's distinctive taste lies in the dry roasting and grinding of spices, including black peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds. This spice blend forms the foundation of the dish, infusing it with a complex and fiery flavor profile.

To create the curry, sliced onions and chopped tomatoes are sautéed in ghee, imparting a sweet and tangy base. Freshly grated coconut adds creaminess, while tamarind paste contributes a delightful tang. The ground spice blend is added, along with water to create a flavorful gravy. Prawns and fresh curry leaves are introduced, infusing the curry with their seafood aroma and the earthy fragrance of South India.

Traditionally, Chettinad Prawns Curry is served with steamed rice, creating a harmonious interplay of flavors. It can also be enjoyed with South Indian staples like dosa or appam, and is often accompanied by cooling raita and pickles to balance the heat.

This spicy and aromatic curry is a delight for the senses, offering a unique and unforgettable culinary experience. Chettinad Prawns Curry stands as a shining example of South Indian cuisine's mastery of spices and ingredients, showcasing a rich tradition that has captivated the palates of food enthusiasts worldwide.

Chettinad Prawns Curry, like many traditional dishes, can have regional variations. While the core ingredients and techniques remain consistent, some families or communities may have their own unique twists on the recipe. These variations often reflect individual preferences and the availability of specific ingredients in different regions.

In some versions of the curry, coconut milk might be used instead of grated coconut, creating a creamier and richer texture. The level of spiciness can also be adjusted to suit personal tastes, with some people opting for a milder curry by reducing the amount of chili powder.

Chettinad Prawns Curry is traditionally served with steamed rice, which acts as the perfect accompaniment to the spicy and flavorful curry. In Chettinad, rice is a staple, and this curry is an exemplary representation of how rice dishes are elevated through the use of aromatic and bold flavors.

The curry can also be served with other South Indian staples like dosa, appam, or idli. These options allow for a diverse culinary experience, as the flavors of Chettinad Prawns Curry complement these dishes beautifully.

For a complete meal, a side of a cooling raita (yogurt with spices and herbs) and a pickle can be added to balance the heat of the curry. This combination creates a delightful interplay of flavors and textures, making for a memorable dining experience.

Equipments used

  1. Mixing bowls

  2. Heavy bottom pan or kadai

  3. Spatula

  4. Mixer Grinder

  5. Tadka


For Marinating the Prawns:

  1. 500 grams of fresh prawns, cleaned and deveined

  2. 1 teaspoon red chili powder

  3. 1/2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

  4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

  5. 1 teaspoon salt

For the Spice Blend:

  1. 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

  2. 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

  3. 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

  4. 1 tablespoon fennel seeds

For the Curry:

  1. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  2. 2 onions, finely sliced

  3. 2 tomatoes, chopped

  4. 1/2 cup grated fresh coconut, ground to fine paste

  5. 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (adjust to taste)

  6. 1 sprig of curry leaves

  7. 2 cups of water (adjust for desired consistency)

  8. Salt to taste

For Tempering:

  1. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  2. 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

  3. 1 teaspoon urad dal (black gram lentils)

For Garnishing:

  1.  Coriander leaves, chopped - a handful

Method of preparation

1. Marinating the Prawns:

  1. In a bowl, combine the prawns with red chili powder, turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste and salt. Let them marinate for about 15-30 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. Dry Roasting the Spices:

  1. In a dry pan over low heat, dry roast the black peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds until they become fragrant. Be careful not to burn them. Remove from the heat and let them cool.

3. Grinding the Spice Blend:

  1. Once the roasted spices have cooled, grind them into a fine powder using a mixer grinder. Set the spice blend aside.

4. Making the Curry:

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.

  2. Add the sliced onions and sauté until they turn soft and translucent.

  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until they become mushy.

  4. Stir in the ground coconut paste and cook for a few more minutes.

  5. Add the tamarind paste, ground spice blend, and salt to the mixture. Cook for a couple of minutes to blend the flavors.

  6. Pour in 2 cups of water and let the mixture simmer until the raw spice flavor dissipates.

5. Adding the Prawns:

  1. Add the marinated prawns and fresh curry leaves to the simmering curry. Cook until the prawns turn opaque and are cooked through. This should take about 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of the prawns.

6. Tempering:

  1. In a separate pan, heat the vegetable oil for tempering.

  2. Add the mustard seeds and urad dal and let them splutter. This adds a crunchy texture and enhances the flavor.

  3. Pour the tempering over the curry.

7. Serving:

  1. Garnish the curry with freshly chopped coriander leaves. Your Chettinad Prawns Curry is now ready to serve. It pairs beautifully with steamed rice, dosa, appam, or any South Indian bread of your choice. Enjoy!

This Chettinad Prawns Curry recipe offers a delicious and authentic taste of South Indian cuisine, known for its bold and spicy flavors. Adjust the spice level to your preference and savor the rich and aromatic flavors of this delightful dish.

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