This Goan shrimp curry is one of the easiest and most delicious shrimp curry recipes you will make. It’s company-worthy and it’s also made with ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry and freezer so you can whip it up for last minute guests in a hurry. You will be amazed at how so few ingredients and little time produces something so mouth-watering and packed with flavor. Serve it up in less than 30 minutes. I promise, this is your new go-to curry recipe.
Where did curry shrimp originate?
Shrimp curry is also known as prawn curry and is a common traditional dish in the Goa region of India, as well as in Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). Cooks in these countries prepare shrimp in a thick yellow-colored sauce that contains coconut milk and turmeric as well as other spices and flavorings such as cumin, coriander, hot chilies, onion and garlic.
How is this Shrimp Curry “The Portion Queen” healthy?
Although not plant-based, this curry shrimp contains turmeric. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. The benefits of turmeric increase when turmeric is combined with black pepper, as in this dish. Pepper improves the bioavailability of turmeric, making it is easier for your body to absorb it.
Scientists and the medical community now acknowledge that chronic low-level inflammation can contribute to the development of:
- heart disease
- metabolic syndrome
- Alzheimer’s disease
- various degenerative conditions
Anything that helps fight chronic inflammation is potentially important in preventing and helping treat these conditions. That's why I like to feature recipes with anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmeric.
Additionally, I serve this Goan shrimp curry in small portions (4 oz of shrimp per person) with a modest bit of rice. I always pair the dish with a large green salad or some simply sautéed spinach or with a vegetable side like this grilled boy choy.
What do you eat with curry?
Cooks all over the world serve shrimp curry with white rice, but my absolute favorite accompaniment is smoked basmati rice. Until 6 months ago, I had never even heard of smoked basmati rice. Then I saw a reference to it in a food group on Facebook and was intrigued enough to check it out. Smoked basmati rice is an Indian grown basmati rice, which undergoes a traditional smoking process, right after harvest. It has a wonderfully fragrant aroma and a rich smoky and nutty flavor. If you rinse the rice several times in clean water before cooking, you will be rewarded with amazing long, separated grains. The smoke makes the whole kitchen smell great, and the taste is amazing. Buy Khazana Smoked Basmati Rice here.
For a faster, even healthier option, go with Seeds Of Change Organic Quinoa & Brown Rice. Microwave it in the BPA-free bag for 90 seconds and serve up a perfectly seasoned quinoa and brown rice to sop up the delicious curry sauce.
Some specifics on Ingredients
Buy quality ingredients ahead of time and then make this fantastic shrimp curry whenever you like. A few of the ingredients in this recipe make a big difference in the finished dish:
Aroy-D: This is my favorite brand of coconut milk for this Goan shrimp curry for one simple reason - nothing but coconut and water! No gums. No weird ingredients I can't pronounce. And it’s the smoothest, creamiest I've tried, not chunky or oily like some brands. Chaokoh is also excellent, but I have read reports online from animal rights organizations that Chaokah uses forced monkey labor for harvesting of their coconuts. Several major retailers, including Walmart, Cosco, Target and Kroger, have pulled Chaokoh products from their shelves in response to consumer complaints. I cannot prove that this is true, but in case it is, I chose Aroy-D, available on Amazon.
People ask: How do you thicken prawn curry? The answer is that high quality coconut milk, such as Aroy-D, is high in coconut fat and solids and is quite thick right out of the can. As it bubbles on the stove, it further reduces down into a velvety smoothness. There is no need for any thickening agents.
Kashmiri Masala and Curry Powders
The very best Kashmiri Masala is found at Burlap and Barrel, a wonderful company that supports small spice farmers around the world. In 2020, Burlap and Barrel released a series of masalas in collaboration with Floyd Cardoz, the celebrated Indian-born American chef, and his family. Chef Floyd was beloved for the warmth and spice he infused into ingredients and the genuine care and compassion he bestowed on his staff and guests alike. In his 30-year career, he led restaurants in the United States and India, penned two cookbooks, won a national television cooking competition, and contributed his time and talent to countless charitable organizations. He passed away in March 2020.
The Burlap and Barrel Kashmiri Masala combines Kashmiri chili, ginger, fennel and other spices into a blend that is spicy and herby and simply delicious in a coconut milk and prawn curry like this one. It’s pricy, but so worth it.
Another, less expensive brand of Kashmiri chilli powder that I’ve used with great success in this recipe is Rani Kashmiri Chilli Powder. It's combination of low heat and big flavor is excellent.
Ingredients for Goan Shrimp Curry
- coconut oil
- Kashmiri chili powder or Kashmiri Masala
- black pepper
- cayenne pepper
- coconut milk
- lemon juice
- sea salt
- rice (for serving)
See recipe card for quantities.
Instructions for Goan Shrimp Curry
Start to finish, this dish comes together in less than a half hour. If frozen, defrost your shrimp in the refrigerator the night before.
Heat coconut oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and fry them until they become medium brown, caramelized and crispy. This takes a while. Don’t rush it. Maybe 10-12 minutes or so.
Remove pan from the heat and add spices: Kashmiri or Goan chili powder, black pepper, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Stir the spices into the fried shallots well.
Return the pan to the heat and stir in coconut milk. Bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce the heat to low and add shrimp as well as frozen peas. Cook shrimp 2-3 minutes until just opaque. Season with salt to taste and add lemon juice and stir.
Turn curry out into a serving dish or individual shallow bowls and top with scallions. Serve with basmati rice.
Variation: For a vegan main dish option with this same Goan curry flavor profile, try my Coconut Curry Lentil Soup with Turmeric recipe.
Top tips for Goan Shrimp Curry
Don't over cook the shrimp! Shrimp cooked too much is rubbery in texture. For tender results, be sure to remove the shrimp from the heat when they have JUST turned opaque.
Also, this curry is mild to medium spicy. Add or subtract cayenne pepper to make it more or less spicy.
Goan Shrimp Curry
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- ⅓ cup finely chopped shallots from 1 large or 2 medium shallots
- 2 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder or Kashmiri masala
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 ¼ cups coconut milk
- 1 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- sea salt to taste
- 2 scallions, sliced green part only
- Heat coconut oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and fry them until they become medium brown, caramelized and crispy. This takes a while. Don’t rush it. Maybe 10-12 minutes or so.
- Remove pan from the heat and add spices: Kashmiri or Goan chili powder, black pepper, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Stir the spices into the fried shallots well.
- Return the pan to the heat and stir in 1 ¼ cups of coconut milk. Bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce the heat to low and add shrimp as well as frozen peas. Cook shrimp 2-3 minutes until just opaque. Season with salt to taste and lemon juice and stir.
- Turn out into a serving dish or individual shallow bowls and top with scallions. Serve with basmati rice.
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw shrimp
- Wash hands after touching raw shrimp
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove