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Easy to make prawn recipes from Sri Lanka

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 4
A close-up of Prawns
Credit: Thamizhpparithi Maari

Prawns are a much sought after delicacy in Sri Lanka and quite expensive in some parts. The shellfish is cooked in curries, stir fries and even battered or grilled.

 Prawns are usually bought fresh but since cleaning prawns can be a tedious job, some people prefer purchasing the frozen kind (which is cleaned and deveined) available at  the supermarkets.

 Normally when prawns are cooked in Sri Lanka the shell and head are peeled off and the black vein (which runs across the back of the prawn) is discarded. But some people cook the prawn with the head claiming it adds flavor to the dish.

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Goan Catholic prawn curry
Credit: rovingI

Prawn Curry

Prawn curry is a popular dish made in many Sri Lanka homes. The curry is cooked in coconut milk and spices. Coconut oil, ghee or vegetable oil is used in sautéing.


  • Ghee – 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup)
  • Chopped onion – 1
  • A few fresh curry leaves (bay leaves or kaffir lime leaves can be substituted)
  • Ginger paste – 1 teaspoon
  • Garlic paste – 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – 2/3 teaspoon
  • Ground turmeric – 1 teaspoon
  • Chopped tomato – 1
  • Red chili powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Prawns peeled and deveined – 2 lbs. (900 grams)
  • Light coconut milk – ¼ cup
  • Garam masala or curry powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Chopped fresh cilantro -  3 tablespoons

 Heat oil in shallow pan (similar in shape to a wok) over medium heat. Add the onions, curry leaves, garlic and ginger paste and sauté till slightly cooked through.

 Add the coriander powder, salt, turmeric, chopped tomato and chili powder and sauté for another 30 seconds before adding the shrimp. Coat the shrimp with the spices and other ingredients and reduce the heat to medium low. Add the light coconut milk and garam masala or curry powder and simmer the curry for 6-8 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove from fire and add the chopped cilantro. Serve with white rice.

Kerala prawn curry recipe

Flickr - cyclonebill - Rejer i hvidløg
Credit: cyclonebill

Devilled Prawns

Devilled Prawns is a very spicy dish and goes well with plain white rice although most people serve it with fried rice.

For the Marinate

  • Prawns (peeled and deveined) – 300 - 350 grams
  • Salt – ½  teaspoon
  • Pepper powder – ½  teaspoon
  • Turmeric – ¼ teaspoon
  • Soy sauce - ¼ teaspoon

For the Sauce

  • Soy sauce – 2 ½ tablespoons
  • Tomato sauce – 1 tablespoon
  • Sugar – ½ tablespoon

Ingredients to be added when sautéing

  • Vegetable oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Garlic paste – 1 teaspoon
  • Ginger paste – 1 teaspoon
  • ¼ piece chicken bouillon
  • Red Chili flakes – 1 teaspoon
  • Corn flour – 1 teaspoon
  • Water – ½ cup
  • 1 green spring onion thinly sliced
  • ¼ bell pepper - sliced

Season the prawns with salt, pepper, turmeric and soy sauce. Leave to marinate for 15 – 20 minutes.

In a separate bowl mix the pepper powder, soy sauce, tomato sauce and sugar. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger paste and sauté for a few seconds. Then stir in the bouillon and chili flakes. Sauté for another 30 seconds and then add the seasoned prawns. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Then stir in the prepared sauce.

Mix the water and corn flour and then add to the prawn mixture. Add the spring onions and chopped bell peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from fire and serve with plain basmati rice or fried rice.

Battered Prawns

For the prawns:

  • Prawns (Peeled and deveined with the tail still intact) – 250 grams
  • Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Pepper powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Turmeric – ¼ teaspoon
  • Soy sauce - ¼ teaspoon

For the batter:

  • Flour – 3 tablespoons
  • Corn flour – 3 tablespoons
  • Cold water - 2 tablespoons
  • Beaten egg – 1
  • Salt – ¼ teaspoon

For frying:

 Vegetable oil – 1 cup


Mix the flour and corn flour in a bowl. Pour in the water a little at a time and whisk. Then whisk in the beaten egg and salt. Batter should not be too thick or too thin.

Heat the oil in a deep shallow pan over medium heat. Dip the prawns one by one in the batter and fry in the oil till a golden brown color for 3-4 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce.

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Apr 29, 2012 11:53pm
Awesome collection of Prawn recipes, will forward it to the wife :-)
Apr 30, 2012 12:39am
Ayubowan Nsilk! Hope your wife enjoys the recipes. Prawn curry is one of my favorite dishes from our motherland and I find it is one of the easiest curry recipes to make. Thank you for stopping by :)
Jul 8, 2012 9:53am
This is an awesome article. I too love prawns. My father goes to Panadura to get fresh ones. When we used to live in Dehiwala we got fresh live fish every morning.
I have to try out your recipes. You can see if you like my recipes too. Sri lankan of course.
Jul 9, 2012 1:27am
Pleased to know you enjoyed the recipe article Yummy-Treasures. Do let me know how the dishes turn out when you get a chance to make it. Thank you for visiting :)
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