Tamarind Fish & Prawn Curry – the perfect balance of sweet, sour and heat

For some time I have been wanting to post this recipe. But whenever I cook it I can never hold out long enough to take photographs. This curry is a recurring favourite and as soon as it is transferred from pan to plate my husband and I greedily dive in.

It’s one of those curries that really needs to be eaten with a spoon – very pleasing. But that’s not the only pleasing thing about it. It’s the most stunning colour, boasts a beautiful balance of sweet, sour and heat and tastes out of this world.

Need I say more?

Well, I might have to say just a little more. For the most part because I’m aware that tamarind is not an ingredient well known to many. I’ve talked about it in a previous post – see my recipe for Fish with Coconut & Tamarind. It may sound similar but is wholly different from the curry of this post.

Tamarind comes from a tree native to Africa that grows pod-like fruit. The pulp from inside the pod is used to make tamarind paste. I always have some on hand because I use it in so many dishes. It is wonderfully sweet and sour and provides a unique flavour. You’ll see it show up a lot in Indian and South-East Asian cooking.

Enter my fabulous Tamarind Fish & Prawn Curry.

My fish of choice for this curry would be Gurnard or Blue Cod. Blue Cod is not always readily available in Auckland and so I tend to most often make this with Gurnard. You’re after a white fish that has a firm, flaky texture and will hold its shape while gently cooked in the curry sauce.

As for the prawns, I like to buy the large tiger prawns because they taste fabulous. I don’t tend to cook them whole but halve them. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly it means they will cook in about the same time as the fish. And secondly, because this is a curry that is eaten with a spoon, you want divine mouthfuls of fish and prawn – not giant prawns that you have to start fussing with.

And by all means change the seafood if you prefer. I like to keep it simple with the fish and prawns because I feel the sauce is just as much of a hero as the seafood.

So, without further ado . . .


Tamarind Fish & Prawn Curry

Serves 4P1010167

Curry Paste


  • 3 shallots
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger
  • 2 red chillies, seeds left in
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. Peel the shallots and the ginger. Remove the stalks from the chillies. Roughly chop these ingredients and add to the bowl of your food processor.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and set your food processor going. Keep blitzing until you have a paste.

Now for the curry . . .

Tamarind Curry Sauce


  • 600g firm white fish
  • 400g raw prawn cutlets (preferably tiger prawns)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Curry paste, as above
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 500ml fish stock
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon caster sugar
  • Pinch chilli flakes (optional)
  • 100g baby spinach leaves, washed
  • Fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
  • Sliced red chilli, to garnish


  1. Firstly, prepare the seafood. Chop the fish into bite-sized portions. But you want the pieces to be a good, meaty mouthful. Don’t make them too small. Then remove the tail from the prawns and halve them. If you’re using smaller prawns leave them whole.
  2. Add the seafood to a bowl, grind over some sea salt and spoon through the seafood. Set aside. It’s good to let the seafood rest at room temperature for a bit to lose that fridge chill before adding it to the sauce.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan large enough to take the sauce and seafood. Add the prepared curry paste and let it cook and sizzle for a few minutes to cook out all the aromatics and spices.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the fish stock (I tend to pop it into the microwave for a couple of minutes). Once heated, add the tablespoon of tamarind and stir through to dissolve.
  5. Add the mustard seeds and turmeric to the curry paste in the pan, stir through and let cook for a minute or so.
  6. Add a little of the fish stock and stir through, then a little more to start creating a sauce. Add the remainder of the fish stock and stir well. Once it comes to a simmer add the coconut milk, salt and caster sugar and give it another good stir to combine everything. The sauce will appear quite thin at this stage but don’t be concerned. It will thicken a little but also remember that this is supposed to be quite a wet curry.
  7. Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it simmer for ten minutes or so. Have a taste. At this stage I like to add a pinch of chilli flakes if I think it needs a little more heat. Is the seasoning right? Remember you will be adding a little more salt with the seafood.
  8. Once the sauce has been simmering for ten minutes add the prepared seafood. Stir it gently through the sauce, bring it back to a gentle simmer and cook for a few minutes until the prawns turn a blushing pink and the fish is just cooked. I like to prod a piece of fish against the side of the pan. If it flakes apart easily and is lovely and opaque then it’s done. You need to stand at the hob here. Don’t get distracted. You want the seafood to be just cooked.
  9. Take the pan off the heat, add the spinach leaves and gently stir through until the spinach has just wilted.

I recommend serving this divine curry with nothing more than plain rice and garnishing with slices of red chilli and fresh coriander leaves.


It is quite simply a treat for your tastebuds. So delicious. You’ll have to try it and see.






  1. So glad you made the time to take these pictures. This dish looks marvelous. I am a BIG fan of curry. I can feel my mouth watering as I’m typing this comment. I agree with you, as well, that tamarind is a fantastic ingredient. This is the only legume/fruit/spice combination I’m aware of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Jonathan. I love to showcase ingredients that people are unfamiliar with. It’s such a treat when you cook with something new and realise how wonderful it is. This curry is absolutely one of my favourites – made from scratch and so delicious.

      Liked by 1 person

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