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Prawns in spicy tamarind sauce (Chemeen varattiyathu)

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

I try and stay healthy, but I do love fried prawns. This recipe hit the spot! Large prawns cooked in a tart dry curry infused with tamarind, spiced with chilies and spices, this recipe pops with flavor. We enjoyed the dry curry with plain basmati rice, the combination was wonderful. ‘This recipe is from the Mapilla community from the northern coast of Kerala. This recipe is typical of the communifty, spicy and bursting with flavor. Here are some more recipes from this community:

Chicken in roasted coconut gravy (Khozi varatharacha curry) Malabar mutton curry This cookbook is the authority on cuisine from this community. I hope to be cooking from it often. I highly recommend this cookbook for those of us who love specalized regional cuisines made in an authentic style.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


1 lb large prawns

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds

8 shallots, minced finely

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1 teaspoon garlic paste

2-4 green chilies, sliced in half, or to taste

1 tablespoon tamarind pulp

1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 large tomato, minced finely

10-12 curry leaves

2 tablespoons coconut oil

Salt to taste

In a wide pot heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and sauté till they pop. Add the shallots, garlic and ginger and sauté on medium heat till the onions are caramelized to a light golden color. Add the chilies and sauté for an additional minute.

Add the tamarind, tomatoes, chili powder, turmeric powder and curry leaves and cook till the tomatoes are completely broken down and for a wet sauce. Continue to cook till the oil begins to come out from the sauce, about 15-20 minutes in total. This step needs to be done on a medium flame, stirring the pot often to mix the ingredients so the flavors come together and mingle.

Add the prawns and sauté till the prawns are cooked, 4-10 minutes depending on the size of the prawns. The prawns should be just cooked through and not get rubbery. Serve immediately with rice or Malabar parathas.

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