Prawn Curry with Darkened Cinnamon

An˘duru kurun˘du saman˘ga issan kariya  

Serves 4


  • 3 sticks cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons Madras Curry Powder

    TST - On the Curry Trail book Cover On The Curry Trail Raghavan Iyer
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 3 slices fresh ginger (each about the size of a quarter), finely chopped

  • 1 pound large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined, but tails left on

  • 2 tablespoons coconut or canola oil

  • 1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds

  • 1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk

  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh curry leaves

  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, coarsely cracked

  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt


1 Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot (holding your palm close to the base, you should feel the heat within 5 seconds), break up the cinnamon sticks into smaller pieces (for an even toast) and throw them in the skillet. Toast, stirring the pieces constantly, or shaking the skillet very often, until they darken further and smell incredibly fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer them to a spice grinder (or clean coffee grinder), and allow the pieces to cool, about 5 minutes. Pulverize the cinnamon to the texture of finely ground black pepper.

2 Combine the cinnamon, curry powder, garlic, and ginger in a large bowl; add the shrimp and toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight.

3 Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil appears to shimmer, add the mustard seeds, cover, and cook until the seeds have stopped popping, about 30 seconds. Immediately add the shrimp in a single layer, and sear them for about 30 seconds on each side.

4 Shake the coconut milk well and pour it in. Add the curry leaves, peppercorns, and salt. Bring the curry to a boil and continue to cook until the shrimp curl and turn salmon in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a serving platter. Keep warm.

5 Continue to cook the sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the shrimp and serve. 

 “Excerpted from On the Curry Trail: Chasing the Flavor That Seduced the World by Raghavan Iyer. Workman Publishing © 2023.”  

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