Prawns in Coconut cream- Durban style

This post has been overdue for two days now. Work has kept me quite busy, end of the day I am exhausted to even turn the laptop on. But that hasn’t stopped me from cooking. I found this recipe while searching for ideas for dinner on Sunday. I have never heard of Durban style curries before( don’t roll your eyes at me :D). Let me educate you a little on Durban curries, if you are new to this like me.

prawns in coconut cream-1

In the 1860 s when the British established the sugar cane industry in Durban, they couldn’t attract Zulu labourers to work in their plantations.So they brought indentured labourers from India on a 25 year contract to work. The large Indian populations settled down here, and they brought their spices along with them. The cuisine has a very strong Indian influence.

The prawn curry is reminiscent of the Kerala fish curry, a balance of sweetness from the coconut cream and the sourness of the lemon/gambogee. The Kerala fish curry is like the one here. The Durban style fish curry, the fish is marinated  in all the spices and masala for an hour and then added to the coconut cream. The prawns was deliciously succulent, full of flavour. Serve it with a wedge to lemon, and rice on the side.

prawns in coconut cream-2

prawns in coconut cream-3


Prawns; without shell- 375 gms (you can leave the shell if you like)
Black mustard seeds- 1 tblsp.
Olive oil
For the marinade:
Curry leaves-a handful
Garlic; peeled and crushed- 2 nos
Ginger; chopped- 10 gms
Lemon juice of 1 small
Olive oil- 1 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Cumin powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Red chilli  powder – 2 tsp
Tabasco sauce- 1/4 tsp
Salt – to taste
Black pepper- to taste 
 For the gravy:
Coconut cream- 1 cup (see note)
Coriander leaves- a handful
Lemon juice- to taste
Lemon wedges
Devein and clean the prawns. In a deep bowl, mix the ingredients under the marinade. Add the prawns to the marinade and toss well. Let the prawns marinate for an hour.
In a terracotta bowl, heat couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mustard seeds to the hot oil, let it splutter. To this add the prawns, a few at a time (do not overcrowd it). Fry the prawns for less than 30 seconds on both sides, remove on a slotted spoon and set aside. Keep the prawns warm. Add the remaining marinade to the oil and stir. Cook until the  oil appears on top, add the coconut cream to this. Let the gravy simmer on low heat. Finally add the prawns, a squeeze of lemon juice and salt to taste. Cook for 5 mins on medium heat. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
Serve hot with rice on the side.
Note: Add 6 tblsp of freshly grated coconut to a grinder, grind with 3/4 cup of water. Grind to a thick smooth paste.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Sanjana says:

    very interesting! I clicked on indentured labourers and went on to reading about Peter Williamson.

    The recipe looks simple enough for someone like me to make. I might try it out! Thanks V! 🙂

    1. Preveena says:

      Thanks Sanjana! I checked the hyperlink, seems to be working fine. Its strange it took you to a random page. The recipe is really simple, let me know how it goes :).

      1. Sanjana says:

        noooo! you misunderstood! I meant, I read the wiki-link and then went on to more links within and found so many things that made for an interesting read! 🙂

      2. Preveena says:

        😀 i clearly misunderstood.. Cheers!

  2. Anup Rajan says:

    I really think this needs to be a v-log…. The recipes need to be practically demonstrated.

    1. Preveena says:

      I will definitely consider a v-log, Anup 🙂

  3. Rosa Mayland says:

    A beautiful dish! Wonderfully spicy and ever so comforting.



    1. Preveena says:

      Thanks Rosa! A simple dish,with lovely burst of flavours in every bite. 🙂

  4. ginger and scotch says:

    Looks delish and thanks for the mini history lesson on Durban 🙂

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