Prawn Masala with Ground Prawn Heads

Prawn Masala with Ground Prawn Heads

Prawn Masala with Ground Prawn Heads

Prawn masala sounds familiar and comforting. The ground prawn heads sounds off? It shouldn’t. All these years of watching Masterchef Australia had to come in handy some time. I know of many Indian recipes where the entire prawn is used in curries or even fried. But only in Masterchef did I see contestants use the heads of prawns and shells of crustaceans to make bases for sauces, soups and oils. I used this trick to give my prawn masala a big prawn punch.

Usually, prawns don’t yield themselves to their curries like crabs do. There’s barely any prawn flavour left in the dish once the prawns are eaten. But when the heads are ground and added to the base, it feels like one big pot of just prawns. So, next time, don’t throw away the prawn heads. Keep them or ask your vendor to pack them separately like I did. Just clean them thoroughly though.

Prawn Masala with Ground Prawn Heads


Medium sized prawns (with heads separated, antennas off, tails on, and deveined) – 500 gm

Coconut oil (or any other except olive) – 2 tbsp + 2 tsp

Curry leaves – 2 sprigs

Turmeric – 1 tsp

Onion – 1 medium finely chopped

Tomato – 1 medium pureed

Garlic – 3 + 2 cloves

Coriander leaves – 1 tbsp chopped


Coconut – 1/4 cup grated or little pieces

Dried red chillies – 7-8 (deseed a few to reduce heat)

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Coriander seeds – 1 tsp

Peppercorns – 2 tsp

Ginger – 1 inch piece


Heat 2 tsp oil in a nonstick pan.

Tip the prawn heads in along with the garlic and let them all roast for about 5-6 mins. Flip them in between.

Let this cool before you blitz into a smooth paste. Your home at this point will smell like a seafood restaurant.

Keep this paste aside while you get on with the masala.

Dry roast all the ingredients except the ginger. Now grind them all together with some water so you have a paste.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the curry leaves. Let it splutter.

Mince the 2 cloves of garlic and add to the pan.

Saute the onions in this till lightly brown.

Add the masala with the tomato, turmeric and 1/4 cup water, and cook for 5 mins.

Now add the prawn head paste and mix.

Let this simmer for another 10 mins.

Tip the prawns in and cover to cook for 4 mins. Smaller prawns will take just 3 mins.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

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