Chemmeen Ulli Theeyal (Kerala Style Prawn & Onion Curry)

Chemmeen Ulli Theeyal (Kerala Style Prawn & Onion Curry)

A delicious, flavoursome curry from South India that is wonderfully healthy and wholesome!

This curry is best enjoyed with plain and simple white rice or coconut rice, flatbreads and a dollop of Puli Inji or your favourite pickle on the side. I personally find it tastes best the next day as the flavours develop more, so make it a day in advance, store in the fridge, re-heat on the stove and enjoy!

If you prefer your curries with more heat – add additional chillies into the curry along with the garlic and shallots.  


For the paste (to dry roast and blitz)

  •     ½ cup Fresh coconut
  •     ½ cup water
  •     1 tbsp Coriander seeds
  •     ½ tsp Cumin seeds
  •     1 tsp Black peppercorns
  •     3-4 Dry red chillies
  •     ¼ tsp Fenugreek seeds

 For the curry

  •     2 tbsp Coconut oil
  •     500g Fresh Tiger Prawns (deshelled and deveined)
  •     2 cups water
  •     ½ cup Coconut milk (optional)
  •     1 tsp Mustard seeds
  •     1 cup shallots (peeled and diced)
  •     8 cloves Garlic
  •     1 tsp Chilli powder
  •     1 tsp Turmeric powder
  •     Salt (To taste)
  •     1 / ½ Tsp Tamarind Paste

For the tempering

  •     1 tbsp Coconut oil
  •     ½ tsp Mustard seeds
  •     10-15 Curry leaves
  •     5-6 Dry red chillies


  1. Make the paste: dry roast Coconut in a hot pan until browned. Add and dry roast the remaining paste ingredients until browned. Add the roasted ingredients into a blender along with the water and grind to make a paste. (You can also do this in a pestle and mortar, it just may take a bit longer), set aside.
  2. Make the curry: Heat coconut oil in a pan.
  3. Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and let them crackle for a few seconds.
  4. Add onion and garlic and fry for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Now add the ground masala, chilli powder, turmeric powder, and salt to taste along with the water.
  6. Bring this to a boil, give it a good mix and simmer for 10 minutes on a low heat with a lid on. Allow the mixture to reduce, thicken and intensify!
  7. Add the prawns, tamarind paste and cook for another 5 minutes with the lid on. You can add the coconut milk here if using.
  8. Make the tempering: heat coconut oil for tempering in a separate pan.
  9. Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry red chilies and let them crackle for a few seconds.
  10. Pour the tempering over the top of the curry.
  11. Serve hot with your choice of rice / flat bread / pickle.
  12. Or choose to let cool, store in the fridge with a lid on to intensify the flavours overnight.

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