Recipe: Classic Curried Prawns

A family favourite of ours and the perfect winter meal. We have fond memories of curried prawns in our family – a heart-warming dish for those cold winter nights. We love to serve ours with rice of course, or on top of orzo! This flavourful family dinner can be prepared and ready to serve in under 30 minutes. Follow below for the full recipe.


  • 1 Kg cooked school or king prawns
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 1 clover garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup pouring cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley or coriander for garnish, chopped
  • Lemon to serve


  1. De-shell and devein the prawns, setting them aside for later use.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced brown onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the curry powder, brown sugar, and plain flour, cooking and stirring for another minute to combine the flavours.
  4. Gradually pour in the vegetable stock and then cream, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to a smooth sauce.
  5. Add the prawns to the sauce, stirring gently until they are heated through.
  6. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  7. Serve the curried prawns over steamed rice, garnished with chopped parsley or coriander and a wedge of lemon.
 Curried Prawns
 A Kitchen Staple
Curry has a rich and intriguing history in Australia. Curry powder was introduced by British colonists familiar with the flavours of British India. By 1813, curry powder was a known commodity in Australian kitchens, used to adapt local ingredients into more familiar, palatable dishes, from iguana tail curry to curried wombat.
The significance of curry in Australian cuisine was further solidified by Philip Muskett in his 1893 publication, The Art of Living in Australia. Muskett advocated for vegetable curry as an ideal national dish. By the early 20th century, curry had become a staple in Australian cookbooks, reflecting its acceptance and widespread use.
Keen's Curry Powder
Keen’s curry powder, blended in Hobart in the 1860s by British immigrant Joseph Keen, became a household name, promising "curries fit for a Maharajah." However, these promises often came with a twist of cultural misrepresentation. Recipes suggested by Keen’s included unconventional ingredients like canned fruit, plum jam, and sultanas, leading to a uniquely Australian interpretation of curry that leaned towards sweetness.
This sweetening trend was further popularized by companies like Golden Circle, who marketed their tinned pineapples as the perfect curry topping. By the 1960s, Australian curries frequently featured a mix of sweet and savory elements, a reflection of both marketing influences and a growing preference for sweeter flavours.
Golden Circle advertisement
The Post-World War II Era
The post-World War II era brought significant changes, as Australia’s booming economy and increased emphasis on lifestyle and travel led to a greater appreciation of international cuisines. Influential figures like Charmaine Solomon played a pivotal role in this culinary transformation. Solomon’s cookbooks introduced Australians to a diverse array of South East Asian curries, moving away from the simplified, sweetened versions towards more authentic and nuanced flavours.
From the late 1960s onwards, Australian cookbooks and food magazines began featuring more refined curry recipes, incorporating regional and cultural variations. The arrival of South Asian migrants further enriched Australia’s curry repertoire, bringing with them authentic North Indian dishes and other regional specialties.
Charmain Solomon Cookbook cover