This easy prawn curry with coconut milk is my go-to curry-in-a-hurry. In just 20 minutes you can rustle up a yummy pan of this curry and enjoy succulent prawns/shrimp in a creamy, flavourful and delicate coconut sauce. Curry powder and turmeric bring warmth and earthiness that is contrasted by the fresh tanginess of green chilli, fresh ginger and lime.
This curry was inspired by a prawn curry starter I enjoyed while on holiday in Madeira. I really enjoyed its creaminess and delicate flavours alongside the juiciness of super fresh king prawns/shrimp. A quick chat with one of the chefs confirmed a few of the key ingredients. I felt inspired to recreate it as a main dish, thinking it could be a great speedy weeknight curry. I added rice, adjusted the seasoning and have incorporated spinach and green pepper. These two vegetables absorb the delicious coconut sauce well and ensure you get your daily dose of green veggies.
Key ingredients and possible alternatives:
- 🍚 Rice - I like to use Jasmine rice for this curry because its slightly nutty and floral taste complements the other ingredients in the dish. You can use basmati rice or another type of rice and you could also use quinoa to make the dish even healthier. If you are short on time you can use a microwaveable packet of pre-cooked rice.
- 🍤 King Prawns/shrimp - I use raw king prawns because I find they are fresher and more succulent than pre-cooked prawns/shrimp, but you can also use pre-cooked prawns/shrimp. If you are using raw king prawns/shrimp make sure you butterfly and devein them first. This increases their surface area and makes them better at absorbing the yummy coconut sauce and also gets rid of the undesirable intestinal tract. If you are using frozen king prawns make sure they are fully defrosted first. Leaving them in the fridge overnight is the best way to do this.
- 🫑 Veggies - I have chosen green peppers and spinach for this recipe because they are quick to cook and absorb the flavour of the sauce well. I try and use pre-washed spinach where possible to avoid adding extra moisture to the curry sauce. If you buy unwashed spinach make sure you dry it thoroughly with kitchen paper before adding it to the dish. You could use a different type of green vegetable like beans or broccoli, but you might need to pre-boil them so they are already tender when you add them to the sauce.
- 🥥 Coconut milk - this forms the base of the sauce. I've made the curry with full fat and light coconut milk and it was yummy both ways.
- 🥘 Tumeric and curry powder - seasons the sauce with spicey, sweet and earthy flavors.
- 🌶 Green chilli - adds tanginess and light heat. I consider this curry to be mild, but you might decide to omit the chilli if you are very sensitive to spice.
- 🍋 Ginger and lime juice + zest - bring zesty, citrusy freshness to the curry sauce.
- 🌿 Fresh coriander - adds a tart and zesty freshness to the final dish. You cannot use ground coriander as a substitute for fresh.
How to make Easy Prawn Curry With Coconut Milk
1. Cook the rice according to packet instructions
You can cook dry rice in a rice cooker or saucepan according to packet instructions while you prepare the rest of the dish. Make sure you keep an eye on it so it does not overcook. If you are using microwaveable pre-cooked rice you can prepare it a few minutes before you serve the curry.
2. Fry the green chilli, ginger, green pepper and garlic
Place a frying pan on a medium to high heat, add oil and add the green chilli, ginger and green pepper and fry until the pepper is tender. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute until fragrant.
3. Make the sauce and cook the spinach and prawns
Stir in the turmeric and curry powder, pour on the coconut milk and add the honey and stock powder.
Bring the sauce to simmer and add the spinach. Cover the pan with a lid if you have one and cook for a few minutes until the spinach has wilted. Then add the king prawns and simmer for a few more minutes until they are opaque.
Add the lime juice and zest and serve immediately with fresh coriander.
Tools and equipment
This prawn Curry with coconut milk is a delicious but simple dish that does not require any fancy kitchen gadgets. Here are a few key items.
- Sharp knife - for butterflying the prawns/shrimp and chopping the peppers, ginger and chilli.
- Frying pan with a lid - choose a frying pan that will hold the finished curry. I normally use a medium-sized pan when I make it for two and would use my large frying pan if I were making it for 4 to 6 people. A lid is advisable as it enables the spinach and prawns to cook more quickly and prevents you from cooking off the sauce in the process.
- Saucepan or rice cooker - for cooking the rice. A rice cooker is a very good investment if you eat rice often. I have found the keep warm function very convenient because it means I don't have to be specific with my timings or worry about the rice over-cooking. Use a packet of pre-cooked rice if you want to skip the rice-cooking step and reduce your washing up.
3 top tips for a perfect prawn curry
- Butterfly and devein the prawns - this increases their surface area and allows them to absorb as much of the yummy sauce as possible. To do this run a sharp knife along the back of each prawn and open the sides out and remove the intestinal tract.
- Avoid wet spinach - wet spinach will add additional water to the sauce and dilute its flavour. I try to use pre-washed spinach for this dish. If you use unwashed spinach make sure you dry it thoroughly with kitchen paper before adding it to the curry.
- Set a timer for the rice - you can cook the rice while you prepare the rest of the dish. The time taken to make the rice should coincide with the time taken to make the curry. However, cooking times can vary depending on the rice you use, so it's best to set a timer to make sure the rice does not overcook.
Prawn Curry With Coconut Milk Faqs
Run a sharp knife along the back of each prawn and open the sides out. Make sure you remove the intestinal tract at this point. It's not harmful to eat this, but the thought of eating prawn poo isn't appetizing.
The curry sauce is delicate and mild, but if you are very sensitive to spice you may want to reduce the amount of green chilli or omit it altogether.
You should really eat shellfish as soon as you cook it for food safety reasons and because it will taste so much better. Reheated prawns will lose their juiciness and may taste a little rubbery. I strongly advise against storing the leftovers for any longer than 24 hours. If you want to save some until the next day refrigerate the curry as soon as it has cooled and store in an airtight container. Make sure you reheat it thoroughly on the stove or in the microwave before you eat it.
If you want to make the curry ahead it's best to make the sauce and add the prawns when you come to eat it. It will only take a couple of minutes to cook them and will taste so much better.
Yes, you can freeze it for up to 3 months. I recommend freezing without the prawns/shrimp because reheated cooked prawns/shrimp taste nowhere near as good as fresh ones. Prawns/shrimp only take a couple of minutes to cook so you won't lose much time doing it this way.