A Shrimp Curry Recipe Passed Down Through Generations

I’ve lived away from home for almost half as many years as I’ve lived at home (in boarding school for five and three for university). Whenever I visited, my Mum made sure that my first meal back home was my favourite – my Grandma Leonora’s shrimp curry. Although I consider myself a seasoned solo explorer who is used to managing my independence, living here in Canada has been the farthest and the longest I’ve been away from home. Sometimes all you need is a comforting taste of home to get you through a rough day.

My longing for my favourite prawn curry could no longer be appeased by dreaming about it so I decided to get the recipe from my Grandma and try making it myself. Substituting fresh ground coconut milk for the canned version you get in any store here, I was surprised how easily I managed to get the other ingredients (a combination of No Frills and Bulk Barn). I’m happy to say it was just as good as my Grandma’s. The only thing that was missing was her special touch of making it with love. Try the recipe below to discover what comfort translates to for me.

Grandma Leonora’s Shrimp Curry


  1. Coconut milk –  1 can
  2. Dried Red Kashmiri chillies – 10
  3. Garlic – 4 cloves
  4. Dry coriander seeds – 2 teaspoons
  5. Dry cumin seeds (cumin) – 3/4 teaspoons
  6. Turmeric powder- 1/2 teaspoon
  7. Tamarind pulp – rounded golf ball size
  8. Onion – 1/2 an onion
  9. Fresh green chilis – 1 or 2 (depending on your tolerance to spice)
  10. Chopped tomato – 1 cut into 4 big pieces (Optional; if you’re not a tomato fan you can omit it)
  11. Raw shrimp – 1 packet of 300-400 grams


  1. Shell the shrimp once thawed and salt it. Add the turmeric powder (1/4 teaspoon). Keep this aside in a bowl.
  2. Slice onion lengthwise and rub them well with salt.
  3. Slit and de-seed the green chili. Sometimes you can tell if a chili is too spicy. Either omit it, add only one or de-seed them.
  4. Cut tomato (if using) into 4 big pieces.
  5. Grind dry red chilis, garlic, dry coriander seeds, dry cumin seeds, and turmeric powder (1/4 teaspoon) with a little water to form smooth masala paste.
  6. Soak the tamarind in about half a cup of water about 10-15 minutes.
  7. Transfer ground masala paste, coconut milk and emulsified and strained tamarind water into a cooking pot and mix well until combined. Heat on stove, stir and bring it to a gentle boil.
  8. When the curry starts to boil, lower heat slightly if necessary and add the sliced onion and green chili. Continue to cook until onion has softened.
  9. If you will be using tomato, put it in at this stage.
  10. Once curry has cooked through, add the shrimp and adjust the salt to your taste. Turn off the heat once the shrimp has cooked.

Serve on a bed of rice.

What’s your favourite comfort food?