Chettinad Style Prawn Fry


Hi Guys! I hope you are doing well. Today, I am sharing the recipe for Chettinad Style Prawn Fry- one of the best prawn preparations ever! I made this recipe in the last week of January and was planning to share it soon but unfortunately it got shifted to the back burner for a bit as I was doing other things. I have missed some time lines but better late than never, right? By the way, is it just me or January just whizzed by? We are already in the second month of the year, unbelievable!

Anyway, coming to this recipe. My love for using freshly ground or freshly powdered spices is the reason I LOVE Chettinad Cuisine. There is simply no comparison between using store-bought spice mixes (who knows when they were powdered) and using fresh spices, ground or otherwise. And using the best and freshest spices is the backbone of the Chettinad cuisine. It’s a treat for all the senses, beautiful food, wonderful warm aroma and lip-smacking taste. To me that’s Chettinad food. SIMPLE.


This dish is inspired by Chicken Chettinad roast (I plan to post a recipe for it soon) and is a very easy and simple preparation using some whole spices and staple home ingredients found in most Indian kitchens. Nothing fancy that you need to get from the market.


Looking at the ingredient list, you may think it’s a lot but believe me, you need them. Every ingredient and every spice is essential to bring out the taste in this recipe. We are using a combination of spices, some are used whole and some are coarsely ground. The timing at which the spices are added is also important for the dish to overall come together. You will see that I have added a generous amount of pounded ginger and garlic, I wanted to make sure there is a bit of caramelised ginger and garlic in every bite. Its adds a wonderful spicy heat to the prawns.

Now, for some key things about the recipe;

  1. Prawns– You can use fresh or frozen. I used frozen prawns, they are cleaned and deveined. I have kept the shell on purely because I prefer it that way. You can choose to keep only the tail on or remove the shell totally -that’s up to you.IMG_3134
  2. Whole spices and coconut oil– this combo brings out the taste in the prawns. Your kitchen will smell amazing for a long time. Trust me!IMG_3133
  3. Onion and tomato– you just need to roughly chop them. You can use tomato puree as well, it gives the dish some body. If you want to make the dish more dry and spicy, you can leave these out. I prefer adding them as I eat this dish with dal/ rasam and rice so I like the extra masala with the prawns. Make sure you reduce the spices if you are leaving these out-the final dish may be too strong otherwise.
  4. Ginger and Garlic– Use as much as you like. DO NOT use paste. You can roughly chop them or just smash them with the back of the knife and then chop them. I pounded them in a mortar and pestle. Honestly, when the pounded ginger and garlic caramelise, it’s the best bite possible.
  5. Curry leaves– If I don’t have curry leaves, I won’t make this dish. The curry leaves are very important in making this dish. You can’t leave it out. And coriander leaves is not a substitute here.
  6. Whole black Pepper and Fennel seeds– It’s my favourite spice combo. Add it 2 minutes before you remove the dish from the heat. Perfect heat and umami.IMG_3132

Now for the recipe,

Prep time- 10 minutes

Cook time- 20-25 minutes


  1. Prawns- 250 grams, cleaned and deveined
  2. Onion- 1 medium, roughly chopped
  3. Tomato- 1 medium, roughly chopped
  4. Green chilli- 2 nos, pounded
  5. Fresh ginger- 1 ½ – 2 inch ginger, pounded
  6. Garlic- 10-12 nos, pounded
  7. Yoghurt- I- 2 tbsp
  8. Turmeric powder- ½ tsp
  9. Red chilli powder- 1 tbsp
  10. Cinnamon stick- 2 small pieces
  11. Green cardamom- 4-5 nos
  12. Cloves- 4-5 nos
  13. Whole black pepper- 1 tsp+ ½ tsp
  14. Fennel seeds- 1 tsp
  15. Curry leaves- 3-4 sprigs
  16. Coconut oil- 4-5 tbsp (you can use any other vegetable oil as well, do not use Olive oil)
  17. Salt- 1 ½ tsp (or as per taste)
  18. Lemon wedges- garnish


  1. Clean Prawns and place in a bowl. Add ½ tsp salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and yoghurt to it. Mix well and keep aside. ( You can make it beforehand and refrigerate)
  2. Use a mortar and pestle and coarsely grind the 1 tsp fennel and 1 tsp whole black pepper and keep aside. (you can use spice grinder as well but don’t make it too fine.)
  3. Use the same mortar and pestle and pound the ginger, garlic and green chillies. You can remove the seeds from the green chilli if you want to reduce the spice in this dish.
  4. Place a wide saucepan on medium heat and when the pan is hot add the coconut oil. Just when the oil is heating up add the whole spices- cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and whole black pepper. Fry for 30 seconds.
  5. Now add the chopped onions with few curry leaves and sauté the onions till they turn translucent. It may take around 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Then add the pounded ginger-garlic and green chilli to the onions and cook till the raw smell of the garlic goes. Again around 2 minutes. Add a splash of water to the pan if the mixture sticks to it and continue sautéing.
  6. When you see some onion, ginger and garlic pieces turning golden brown- add the chopped tomatoes in it. The tomatoes will deglaze whatever was stuck on the pan-continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes with the lid on the pan. Stir in between.
  7. Once the tomato and onion mixture is cooked, you will see that they have clumped up and there is some oil on the sides, add the marinated prawns to the pan. Also, add the remaining curry leaves to the pan.
  8. Add the 1 tsp salt to the mixture and keep frying the prawns. The prawns will cook very soon and the outer shell will turn a nice coral red when done. This may take 3-4 minutes. make sure to not overcook the prawns.
  9. Add the ground pepper and fennel to the prawns in the last 2 minutes of cooking and remove from heat.
  10. Serve immediately with steamed rice, tomato dal/ rasam and few lemon wedges. You are welcome!IMG_3232

If you haven’t guessed already, let me tell you- I LOVE this dish. And if you make it like this, you will love it too. Please try this dish out and share your feedback with me.

Please Note- If you want to make this dish less spicy, reduce the amount of green chillies and red chilli powder. The spice and heat from the black pepper and ginger is essential for this dish.


Thank you for stopping by,


Susan A



5 Comments Add yours

  1. Excellent presentation and well described the method of cooking this dish…keep posting


    1. susanabraham says:

      Hey thanks a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure Susan… .


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