Kerala Shrimp Curry (Chemmeen Curry)

5 from 6 votes

Kerala Shrimp Curry (Chemmeen Curry, Kerala Prawn Curry) is a delicious Kerala-style shrimp curry that can be made with or without coconut. Make it using my easy recipe.

Here are a few more prawn recipes you may like: Goan Shrimp Vindaloo, Shrimp Pulao, Goan Prawn Curry, Shrimp Masala, and Hunan Shrimp.

Kerala prawn curry served in a bowl.
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About Kerala Shrimp Curry

Kerala Shrimp Curry (Chemmeen Curry, Kerala Prawn Curry) is a spicy and flavorful dish from Kerala, where prawns (shrimp) are cooked in a tomato onion-based curry.

This curry can be made with or without the addition of coconut milk.

Chemmeen curry is easy to make. It requires a few simple pantry ingredients and comes together in under 30 minutes.

It is best served with Steamed Rice or flaky Kerala Parotta for lunch or dinner. For a wholesome meal, you can also relish it with ghee roast dosa, appam, or neer dosa.

This recipe is dairy-free and gluten-free. It is also Keto friendly, low carb, high in protein, whole 30, and paleo-approved.

Ingredients

Prawns (Shrimp) – You can use fresh or frozen prawns to make Kerala prawn curry. If using frozen prawns, make sure to thaw them before use.

You can use any size of prawns—small, medium, large, or jumbo—they all work great. However, the time of cooking will differ slightly according to the size.

  • Small shrimp – 4-5 minutes
  • Medium shrimp – 5-6 minutes
  • Large (Jumbo) shrimp – 7-8 minutes

Clean and devein the prawns before using.

Oil – This curry is traditionally made using coconut oil. It gives a very unique taste to the curry.

Spice Powders – You will need basic spice powders such as coriander powder, turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, black pepper powder, and garam masala powder.

Coconut Milk – Kerala-style prawn curry can be made with or without coconut milk. Traditionally, it is made using fresh homemade coconut milk, but I use a can or a tetra pack for ease.

Others – You will also need brown mustard seeds, fennel seeds (saunf), fenugreek seeds (methi dana), onions, fresh tomatoes, green chilies, fresh ginger, garlic, curry leaves, tamarind paste, salt, and cilantro (fresh coriander leaves).

Some add 3-4 dried Kudampuli (Malabar tamarind, Garcinia cambogia) instead of tamarind for the tang. Kudampuli is a tropical fruit that is native to India and Southeast Asia. You can find it in Indian grocery stores or specialty Kerala stores.

For Tempering – Tempering is optional but recommended. You will need coconut oil, sliced shallots (or onions), curry leaves, and Kashmiri red chili powder).

How To Make Kerala Style Shrimp Curry

Make The Shrimp Curry

Heat 5 tablespoon of coconut oil in a pan over medium-high heat.

Oil heating in a pan.

Add the following ingredients once the oil is hot, and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.

  • ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds added to hot oil.

Add 2 cups of thinly sliced onions and cook until the onion turns slightly brown (8-10 minutes), stirring frequently.

Onions added to the pan.

Now, add the following ingredients and cook for 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes are mushy.

  • 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 green chilies (slit into half)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 15-20 curry leaves
Tomatoes, green chilies, ginger, garlic and curry leaves added to the pan.

Now add the following ingredients and cook for a minute.

  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
Spice powders added to the pan.

Add the following ingredients and mix well.

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (or 3-4 dried kudampuli)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Water, tamarind paste and salt added to the pan.

Reduce the heat to low.

Cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times while cooking.

Pan covered with a lid.

Now add 1 cup of coconut milk (optional) and ½ cup of water and bring the curry to a simmer, stirring frequently.

Coconut milk added to the pan.

Add 300 g cleaned and deveined prawns (shrimp) and cook for 5-6 minutes.

Shrimp added to the pan.

Temper The Curry

Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a small pan.

Coconut oil heating in a pan.

Once the oil is hot, add ¼ cup thinly sliced shallots (or onions) and 10-12 curry leaves, and fry until the shallots are browned, stirring frequently.

Onions and curry leaves added to the pan.

Add ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder and saute for 3-4 seconds.

Red chili powder added to the pan.

Pour the tempering over the curry and mix well. Serve hot.

Tempering poured over the curry.
Ready Kerala prawn curry.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to devein and clean the prawns?

First, remove the head, legs, and tail by twisting them off to clean and devein prawns. Then, use a small knife to make a shallow cut down the back of the prawn and remove the vein using the tip of the knife or a toothpick. Rinse the prawns under cold running water and use.

Are prawns and shrimp the same?

The terms “prawns” and “shrimp” are often used interchangeably in some regions, but they can differ depending on where you are and the local terminology.

In many parts of the world, especially in the United States, the term “shrimp” is commonly used to refer to both true shrimp and prawns, and there is no strict distinction made between the two.

However, there is a distinction between prawns and shrimp in other countries, especially in Europe and some parts of Asia.

Read more about it here.

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Kerala Prawn Curry (Chemmeen Curry) is a delicious Kerala-style shrimp curry that can be made with or without coconut. Make this flavorful curry using my easy recipe (gluten-free, dairy-free).
5 from 6 votes

Kerala Shrimp Curry Recipe (Chemmeen Curry)

Kerala Shrimp Curry (Chemmeen Curry) is a delicious Kerala-style shrimp curry that can be made with or without coconut. Make it using my easy recipe.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

  • 5 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 green chilies (slit into half)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 15-20 curry leaves
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (or 3-4 dried Kudampuli)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (optional)
  • 300 grams medium prawns (shrimp) (fresh or frozen,cleaned and deveined, )
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (fresh coriander leaves)

For Tempering (Optional)

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ¼ cup sliced shallots (or onions)
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
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Instructions 

Make The Shrimp Curry

  • Heat coconut oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, fennel seeds, and fenugreek seeds, and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
  • Add onions and cook until the onion turns slightly brown in color (8-10 minutes), stirring frequently.
  • Add tomatoes, green chilies, ginger, garlic, and curry leaves, and cook for 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes are mushy.
  • Now add coriander powder, turmeric powder, chili powder, pepper powder, and garam masala powder, and cook for a minute.
  • Add 1 cup of water, tamarind paste, and salt, and mix well.
  • Reduce the heat to low.
  • Cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times while cooking.
  • Now add coconut milk (optional) and ½ cup of water and bring the curry to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  • Add prawns and cook for 5-6 minutes.
  • Check for salt and add more if required.
  • Garnish the curry with chopped cilantro.

Temper The Curry

  • Heat coconut oil in a small pan.
  • Once the oil is hot, add shallots (or onions) and curry leaves, and fry until the shallots are browned, stirring frequently.
  • Add Kashmiri red chili powder and saute for 3-4 seconds.
  • Pour the tempering over the curry and mix well. Serve hot.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

If using frozen prawns, then make sure to thaw them before use.
You can use any size of prawns – small, medium, large, jumbo, all works great. Keep in mind that the time of cooking will differ slightly according to the size.
  • Small shrimp – 4-5 minutes
  • Medium shrimp – 5-6 minutes
  • Large (Jumbo) shrimp – 7-8 minutes
 

Nutrition

Calories: 424kcal, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 34g, Saturated Fat: 28g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.003g, Cholesterol: 114mg, Sodium: 868mg, Potassium: 645mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 839IU, Vitamin C: 141mg, Calcium: 143mg, Iron: 4mg
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Recipe Rating




13 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness me! I just made this for my family and it was absolutely amazing, better than resturant!

    I doubled the recipe, but kept the chilli at the single. it was beautifully rich and had a lovely spicy heat.

    I’m allergic to coconut, so I used almond milk instead, and since we had no tamarind substituted lemon juice for tang.

    Thank you so much for such a wonderful recipe and easy to follow instructions!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this yesterday and it was utterly delicious. My first taste I felt disappointment. But there is a delayed hit of flavour. Every bite into it was more pleasant that the one before.

  3. It’s lovely! I tried it and loved it. I added some thick coconut cream and milk.
    It was yummy!
    Thank you