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Indian Spiced Shrimp

A blue-speckled bowl filled with Indian spiced shrimp, garnished with cilantro and served with flatbread.
This easy curry, Kadhai Jhinga, has a spicy kick. The sauce is prepared first to allow all the flavours to develop and intermingle, then the prawns are added for the last few minutes.
Mridula Baljekar

Prep 25 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 45 mins
4 servings
260 kcal


  • 1/4 cup olive oil or mild vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large (10 1/2 oz) onion finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 green chile stemmed, seeded (if desired), and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed, or 2 teaspoons garlic purée
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 7 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 1/4 pounds peeled raw tiger prawns (jumbo shrimp) tail-on and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves*
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Warm flat bread such as naan, for serving (optional)


  • In a large, heavy skillet or wok over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the fennel seeds and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Add the onion and green chile and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is lightly but thoroughly browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Carefully pour 2 tablespoons hot water into the skillet—the liquid may spatter—and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the prawns, salt, and fenugreek and cook for 1 minute. Stir in 3/4 cup hot water, increase the heat slightly, and cook, still stirring, until the prawns are pink and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Stir in the garam masala and cilantro. Remove from the heat. If desired, serve with warm flat bread.


*What can I substitute for fenugreek leaves?

Dried fenugreek leaves can be pretty hard to come by unless you have an Indian market near you. However, you do have some options here. Celery leaves are an excellent option, especially Chinese celery because of the bitterness.  Alfalfa and watercress leaves are good, too. Maple syrup also makes an acceptable sub—fenugreek and maple syrup share a chemical compound that gives them a similar aroma. Tester Jennifer Combs used a 50-50 mixture of maple syrup and curry powder and found it worked perfectly.