Sri Lankan Prawn Curry Recipe by Aunty’s Cooking Class

Having had the pleasure of attending a cooking class at Aunty’s in Colombo, I was impressed by both the execution and authenticity of the Sri Lankan dishes. With such a unique cuisine, I believe no avid homecook should leave Sri Lanka without having a go at cooking up a fragrant curry- Aunty’s is by far the best class I’ve attended.

Favouring the traditional methods, we were set to work grating coconuts with a hand powered device, squeezing the milk in our palms, cutting open a king coconut with a large knife (I left that part to my boyfriend but in all honesty, you see 10 year olds doing it in Sri lanka) and cooking in rustic terracotta pots a la authentic old school Amma’s (mother’s) and Aunty’s in Sri Lanka- hence the name.

A keen cook myself, I love sharing recipes in the hope of inspiring others, even just one, to give Sri Lankan cuisine a try- its surprisingly easy and most recipes take less than 30 minutes. A recently converted pescatarian, I’m sharing a delicious recipe for a traditional prawn curry. Thank you for your generosity Aunty’s!

If you don’t have fresh coconut milk please use coconut milk powder, the packet you buy will have instructions for quantities. When I cook Sri Lankan curries in the UK, I often favour powder for convenience. When possible, use fresh! Curry leaves can be sourced from specialist Asian supermarkets, I’ve even seen them emerging in larger supermarkets too. If you can’t source rampe, cook it without- it’s far better than no prawn curry!

Curry leaves and rampe can be frozen in batches and kept for several months when a craving emerges.


100 g of medium prawns, deveined and cleaned

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp unroasted curry powder

ΒΌ tsp turmeric

ΒΌ tsp mustard seeds

ΒΌ tsp fennel seeds

Β½ medium tomato

ΒΌ medium onion

1 clove of garlic

1 small green chili

1 small cinnamon stick

1 cardamom

1 small rampe (panadus) leaf

4 curry leaves

2-3 tamarind seeds with pulp (or 1 tsp tamarind paste)

2 tbsp of coconut oil

200 ml of coconut milk


  1. Add in all the powdered spices to the prawns and rub it in and let it marinate for 10 minutes
  2. Slice the onion, garlic, cut the tomato into cubes, the green chili lengthwise
  3. Add the oil to a clay pot and fry the mustard, fennel, rampe, curry leaves, cinnamon, cardamon. Put in the sliced onion, garlic, green chili and fry along with the prawns for 3 -4 minutes
  4. When the prawns turns red in color and is about half done, add in the coconut milk and reduce heat
  5. Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes until the coconut milk turns thick and the prawns are well boiled, add the chop tomatoes
  6. Switch of the heat and add in the tamarind and stir well
  7. Finish by adding salt

Published by

Alice Luker

I'm a photographer and travel blogger based in the UK, venturing across Sri Lanka since 2004.

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