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Shrimp Curry (30-Minute Recipe with Coconut Milk)

by Lorena

This Coconut Shrimp Curry is delicious, easy and quick to make. It’s extremely flavorful with a nice spicy level that is perfect with white rice. Rice pairs well with this dish because it absorbs the curry sauce and it also helps in keeping the spiciness at bay. This is one of my favorite dishes to make to serve many people during a chilly afternoon. It warms you up from the inside! It’s great to have in a large pot at the table along with lots of sides. Then, everyone can serve their own plate choosing what they like best.

Tips for making this Shrimp Curry

This Shrimp Curry is easy and quick to make. Here are a few tips I can provide so that you nail them every time:

  • Use raw shrimp or raw prawns. Avoid buying them pre-cooked because shrimp cooks in only a couple of minutes. Hence, if they’re already cooked and you add them to the curry sauce you will dry them out and make them chewy, when in fact we want juicy shrimp.
  • Avoid using liquid coconut milk. Instead, go for a can of coconut milk (aka unsweetened coconut cream). Full fat coconut milk has the best flavor and will help us have a thicker curry sauce for our Shrimp Curry. It’s the creamy coconut milk that will add a delicious and silky texture to the dish.
  • Have all your ingredients ready before you begin cooking the recipe. This easy Coconut Curry Shrimp Recipe is done in very few minutes. By having everything ready you avoid burning ingredients or overcooking them. 
  • Have a bit of patience: Even though this is a quick and easy recipe, you do need to give every step its time to happen before going to the next. This will make for a good curry! For example, you want to make sure that you cook the onion enough before adding the garlic and spices. Then, when you add the tomatoes and water, give the tomatoes enough time to cook. If they aren’t ripe, they will take longer and might need a bit more water and time to cook down. 
2 bowls of Coconut Shrimp Curry served with fried basil leaves. The sauce looks thick and has a lovely orange hue.

Types of curry

The word “curry” doesn’t refer to only one spice of a type of curry in particular. In general, it’s a preparation made with vegetables, meat or fish that has a sauce that’s usually spice-forward. All around Asia, you will find these preparations and each country has their formula. You can check out for example my recipe for Indian Chicken Curry that’s here in the blog, a recipe provided by a dear Indian friend. On the other hand, we have Thai curries that use curry pastes (there’s red curry paste, green curry paste and yellow curry paste) to make their recipes. This specific Coconut Shrimp Curry recipe was inspired by a recipe I saw the chef of Hoppers London make. He’s from Sri Lanka so it has that lovely twist, even though it is very similar to Indian curries. I was inspired by that but had to adapt a couple of ingredients to what I can find in grocery stores here in Chile. Another type of curry that I adore is Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry which is just extremely tasty.

How to make this Shrimp Curry

To make this flavorful Shrimp Curry you will begin by mixing the shrimp with turmeric and salt in a small bowl. Turmeric is one of the many warm spices that we use in this recipe. Next, you will preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Here you will add the neutral oil. Avoid using olive oil because it has a distinct flavour that won’t contribute to the dish. In this oil, we will toast the cinnamon and red pepper flakes. This practice of cooking the spices in oil is very common in many curry recipes. Then you will cook the red onion, garlic and aromatic spices. Once that’s ready we will add peeled and chopped tomato and a bit of water to let the tomato cook and soften. Once the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is thick again, add the shrimp, and coconut milk and let it boil for 3 minutes in total max. This is to avoid overcooking the shrimp. Taste it, correct the seasoning and you’re ready to serve with your favorite sides. 

Closeup of a bowl Coconut Shrimp Curry with fried basil leaves. You can see the shrimp and the shiny sauce.

​Options for serving the curry

Each portion of this easy Shrimp Curry recipe can be served with many options depending on what you prefer. You can get as creative as you like or just opt for having a bowl of the curry and call it a day. Here are a few options:

  • Garnish: I topped the curry with fried basil leaves that are delicious and crispy. It’s just an innovation of mine but you can certainly opt for fresh herbs. Options of fresh herbs include basil, coriander and mint. You can even top it with coconut shavings and a few drops of lime juice.
  • Rice: you can serve this Shrimp Curry with white rice, jasmine rice, coconut rice, brown rice or even cauliflower rice.
  • Bread: Even though it’s not as traditional, I will always welcome a portion of Naan, especially to scoop that leftover curry sauce at the bottom of the bowl.
  • Greens: If you’re looking for a fresh option, a salad with leafy greens, cucumber and other fresh vegetables would make a great complement.
  • Potatoes: Roasted potatoes would also do a good job of soaking up the curry sauce.


I you have leftover shrimp curry, it’s fine to keep refrigerated. Keep it in an airtight container for up to 5 days. For reheating, place it in a pot and reheat as quickly as possible or use a microwave. If you want to freeze this Shrimp Curry, you can do so for up to 3 months. To thaw, ideally, place it in the fridge overnight and then reheat as stated before. At all times be aware that the longer the shrimp are reheating, the more they will cook and you risk overcooking them. If you need more shrimp recipes, here are a few of my favourites:

Coconut Shrimp Curry Recipe

This Coconut Shrimp Curry is delicious, easy and quick to make. It's extremely flavorful with a nice spicy level that is perfect with white rice.
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Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Sri Lanka
Keyword: coconut, curry, prawn, shrimp
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 portions
Author: Lorena Salinas from Cravings Journal


For the shrimp

  • 500 g raw shrimp or prawns shelled and clean
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • Salt

For the curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • ½ red onion finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced or finely grated
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes adjust to taste
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp ground chili or spicy paprika
  • 2 tomatoes peeled and finely diced
  • 200 ml water
  • 150 ml coconut milk canned, unsweetened
  • Salt

To serve

  • 8 basil leaves use small ones for less splattering
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil


For the shrimp

  • If your shrimp are whole, remove their shell and the vein that goes along its back. The vein can be removed by making a shallow cut along the back. Make sure to rinse them afterwards.
  • Dry the shrimp and mix with the turmeric and salt.

For the curry

  • In a large skillet or saucepan, preheat the oil over medium heat. Add the cinnamon and chilli flakes. Stir constantly for 1 minute.
  • Add the onion and cook it for 4-5 minutes or until it's golden.
  • Add the garlic and spices. Stir constantly for 1 minute.
  • Add the tomatoes and stir to incorporate.
  • Add the water and lower the heat to have a slow simmer. Let it thicken. At this point, the tomato should have begun to disintegrate. If it wasn't very ripe it could need a bit longer. In that case, add more water.
  • Once thickened, add the shrimp and coconut milk and stir. Add salt and taste. Let the curry bowl for just 3 minutes to prevent the shrimp from overcooking.

To serve

  • Preheat a small skillet over medium heat with the oil. Once hot, add a couple of basil leaves at a time to fry them. Be careful because it splatters a lot. Remove them from the oil and place them in a bit of kitchen paper before garnishing your dish.
Tried this recipe?Mention @CravingsJournal or tag #RecipeCJ!

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