Curried prawn skewers are made by marinating succulent fresh prawns in a tandoori-style marinade. They make a fantastic starter for an Indian-style banquet, or you could make a larger batch and serve it with rice or naan bread, and salads for a complete meal. And while you're at it, don't forget to whip up a cooling cucumber raita sauce for dipping!
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Tandoori-style prawn kebabs
These curried prawn skewers (or kebabs as they are also known) are so easy to make, but they are so yummy. You can make them either with prawns that are still in their shells (you will have to peel and devein them first), or you can make it even easier on yourself and buy ready-shelled RAW prawns.
I would recommend that you don't buy ready-cooked prawns because the marinade won't penetrate the flesh quite so much and they won't be so tasty. Also, ready-cooked prawns are not meant to be re-cooked so you stand the chance of ending up with rubbery prawns - and we don't want that!
Once cleaned and deveined, the prawns are left to marinate for an hour in a mixture of yoghurt, lemon juice and a mixture of spices such as cumin, coriander and garam masala to give the distinctive tandoori-style taste. Ginger and cardamom add extra flavour, and the heat comes from the addition of cayenne pepper. You could substitute the cayenne pepper for chopped chilli if you prefer, or even chilli paste.
I like to thread the prawns on bamboo skewers and pop them into my air-fryer oven for a few minutes to cook, but if you don't have an air fryer, you can simply fry them on the stove in a griddle pan, or even pop the skewers into the oven for a few minutes to cook. And if you don't have bamboo skewers, there's absolutely nothing stopping you from just frying the prawns without threading them onto skewers first!
For dipping, I like to serve these prawns with a dish of cucumber raita. The tang from the yoghurt and the coolness of the cucumber makes this dipping sauce the perfect foil for the heat of the curry spice.
What you will need
If you are going to be cooking the prawn skewers in an air fryer, this is the model that I have. It's a bit like an oven, with three shelves, so you can fit quite a bit in, although I do find that if I use all three shelves I have to increase the cooking time slightly. If you don't have one of these, you can simply put the skewers in a single layer into the basket of your own model of air-fryer.
I've also heard good things about the Ninja multi-cooker which is a pressure cooker and air-fryer in one. With Christmas fast approaching, I've been dropping pointed hints at hubby. Fingers crossed he picks up on them 🙂
You will also need a mixing bowl to hold the marinade ingredients. I like these mixing bowls because they come with lids which makes them easy to cover while marinating.
These bamboo skewers are the ideal length for putting into an air-fryer. At only 18cm long they fit into a large frying pan too. You should soak the bamboo skewers in cold water for at least 15 minutes before using them so they don't burn in the air-fryer.
This recipe will serve 4 people as a starter, or 2 people as a main meal. You can add extra prawns depending on your appetite.
For the prawns and marinade
**You can find the complete recipe for these curried prawn skewers, including the cucumber raita, on the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
Prawns - I used fresh prawns with heads and shells still on. If you're going to be using these you will need to remove the heads and peel away the shells, and also remove the black vein from the back of the prawn. This is the alimentary canal, and while it is not harmful to eat, it doesn't look very appetising. To remove it, simply slice the back of the prawn with a sharp knife and use the point of the knife to ease out the vein. To make it easier, you could just buy ready-cleaned and peeled raw prawns.
Try to get largish prawns. If your prawns are on the small side you can use extra. I like to get 3 or 4 onto each skewer. As a starter, you will need one skewer per person. If you intend to serve these curried prawn skewers as a main meal you will need 2 to 3 skewers per person.
Yoghurt - this is thick, unflavoured Greek yoghurt. You can use natural yoghurt instead.
Lemon juice - you will need the juice of half a small lemon, approximately 1 tablespoonful. Substitute with bottled pure lemon juice.
Spices - these are mixed with the yoghurt and lemon juice to make the marinade. You will need ground cumin and coriander, garam masala, cardamom and ground ginger.
Garlic granules - when making a marinade, I prefer to use garlic granules rather than fresh chopped garlic because the granules dissolve into the marinade. If you only have fresh garlic, be sure to crush it finely with a flat-bladed knife rather than chop it.
Cayenne pepper - this provides the heat (or burn) in the curry. Use according to your own taste. I like a mild curry so I only used one-quarter of a teaspoon. You can substitute this with dried chilli flakes.
I also like to add a little sugar for a hint of sweetness, and a pinch of salt, but these are optional.
For the cucumber raita
This will make just over a cup of marinade -
Cucumber - this should be peeled and grated, with all the liquid squeezed out. You will need about half a cup of grated cucumber.
Yoghurt - this is thick, unflavoured Greek yoghurt. You can use natural yoghurt instead.
Lemon juice - not too much, you can use the juice from the other half of the lemon.
Mustard powder and cumin - for flavouring.
Coriander - I wouldn't recommend substituting this with ground coriander. Fresh coriander is the only way to go when making raita!
You may also like to add a small amount of salt to both the marinade and the raita, but that's to your own taste.
What to do
Marinate the prawns
Peel and devein the prawns and dry them on a piece of kitchen towel. The prawns should be quite dry before they are added to the marinade.
Place all the ingredients for the marinade into a mixing bowl and mix well to combine.
Add the prawns to the marinade, cover the bowl with a lid or a piece of plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Make the cucumber raita
Peel and grate the cucumber and using your hands squeeze as much liquid out as possible.
Chop the coriander finely, and place it with the rest of the ingredients into a serving bowl.
Mix well, garnish with a little more chopped coriander, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make the curried prawn skewers
Thread the prawns onto the bamboo skewers (which have been soaked in cold water). You should get three to four prawns on each skewer.
Preheat the air-fryer for 3 minutes to 200C/400F.
Arrange the skewers on an air-fryer tray.
Cook the prawns for 3 minutes at 200C/400F.
Remove from the air fryer.
Flip the skewers and cook for a further 3 minutes at the same temperature.
The prawns should have turned pink and be fully cooked through.
How to serve curried prawn skewers
Serve the skewers as an appetiser with the cucumber raita as a dipping sauce.
If serving as a main meal, add a green salad and a dish of rice or buttery garlic naan bread (or both 🙂 )
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Tips and FAQ
Start by removing the head. Hold the head in one hand and twist the body to pull the head away.
Next, take a pair of sharp pointed scissors and cut along the back of the prawn from head to tail.
Peel the shell away,
Finally, use the point of the scissors to ease the dark vein out of the prawn.
Rinse in clean water and pat dry with a paper towel.
To cook the prawns in the oven, arrange the skewers in a single layer on a flat baking tray that has been lined with baking parchment or tinfoil. This will stop the prawns from sticking to the baking tray and will make cleaning up much easier.
Spray the prawn skewers lightly with cooking oil and bake in a preheated oven (200C / 400F) for 5 minutes. Then turn the skewers over and bake for a further 4 to 5 minutes until the prawns are completely pink.
Heat one tablespoon of sunflower or other neutral oil in a frying pan or griddle pan. Lay the skewers in a single layer in the pan and fry on a medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until you can see the prawns start to turn pink.
Turn the skewers over and continue to fry for a further 3 to 4 minutes until the prawns are completely pink.
If you are using prawns which have been previously frozen, then the answer is 'no - you shouldn't freeze these prawns'.
However, if you have bought fresh unfrozen prawns from a fishmonger then you can freeze the skewers in the marinade for up to 3 months.
To use, let them defrost in the refrigerator and then cook them according to the recipe instructions.
You can assemble the curry prawn skewers the day before you intend to eat them and store them in a covered container in the refrigerator. I wouldn't store them for longer than one day without cooking them.
Leftover cooked prawn skewers (provided they have been stored in a covered container in the refrigerator) should be eaten the next day.
Cucumber raita will sit quite happily in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days before turning watery.
Leftover raita can be served as a side dish with your favourite curry. Why not try it with this chicken tikka masala or beef madras?
The difference is in the name only. In the UK and most Commonwealth countries, we refer to large prawns as 'prawns' and tiny prawns which are used for sandwiches and some salads as 'shrimp'. In the US the large variety is known as 'shrimp and the tiny one-bite shrimp are referred to as mini or baby shrimp.
Save for later
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If you enjoyed these curried prawn skewers, perhaps you might like to take a look at some of my other prawn recipes:
- Cod mornay with prawns - tender fillets of cod with juicy prawns in a cheesy sauce with a crispy breadcrumb topping.
- Seafood a la king - prawns, mussels and calamari in a creamy sauce, served on a bed of fluffy rice.
- Kashmiri chicken and prawn curry with lychees - tender chicken and succulent prawns in a mild curry sauce, with a sweet hit of juicy lychees.
- Seafood stuffed pasta shells - jumbo pasta shells, stuffed with prawns, mussels and calamari cooked in a creamy sauce with a grilled cheese topping.
- Easy pasta Pescatore - (fisherman's pasta) prawns and other seafood cooked in a tasty marinara sauce served with pasta
Curried prawn skewers with cucumber raita
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Prawns and marinade
- 16 large prawns (4 per skewer)
- ½ cup / 120 ml Greek yoghurt or natural yoghurt
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger powder
- ½ teaspoon sugar optional
- 1 teaspoon garlic granules or crushed fresh garlic
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste if you like it spicy
- salt to taste
- ½ cup tightly packed grated cucumber about ¼ whole cucumber
- 1 cup / 240 ml Greek yoghurt or natural yoghurt
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander not ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- salt to taste
- Place the bamboo skewers into cold water and leave the to soak for at least 20 minutes while you get on with preparing the rest of the ingredients. This will prevent the bamboo skewers from burning.
Marinate the prawns
- Peel and devein the prawns and dry them on a piece of kitchen towel. The prawns should be quite dry before they are added to the marinade.16 large prawns
- Place all the ingredients for the marinade into a mixing bowl and mix well to combine.½ cup / 120 ml Greek yoghurt, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 2 teaspoons garam masala, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, ½ teaspoon ground ginger powder, ½ teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon garlic granules, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, salt to taste
- Add the prawns to the marinade, cover the bowl with a lid or a piece of plastic wrap and place it into the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Peel and grate the cucumber and using your hands squeeze as much liquid out as possible.½ cup tightly packed grated cucumber
- Chop the coriander finely, and place it with the rest of the ingredients into a serving bowl.1 cup / 240 ml Greek yoghurt, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander, ½ teaspoon mustard powder, ½ teaspoon cumin, salt to taste
- Mix well, garnish with a little more chopped coriander, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Thread the prawns onto the bamboo skewers. You should get three to four prawns on each skewer.
- Preheat the air-fryer for 3 minutes to 200C/400F.
- Arrange the skewers on an air-fryer tray.
- Cook the prawns for 3 minutes at 200C/400F.
- Flip the skewers and cook for a further 3 minutes at the same temperature.
- The prawns should have turned pink and be fully cooked through. Depending on your air fryer, you may have to cook them for 1 or 2 minutes longer.
- Serve the skewers either as an appetiser with the cucumber raita as a dipping sauce, or as a main meal with a green salad and either rice or buttery garlic naan bread.
Spray the prawn skewers lightly with cooking oil and bake in a preheated oven (200C / 400F) for 5 minutes. Then turn the skewers over and bake for a further 4 to 5 minutes until the prawns are completely pink. To cook the prawns in a frying pan or griddle. Heat one tablespoon of sunflower or other neutral oil in a frying pan or griddle pan. Lay the skewers in a single layer in the pan and fry on a medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until you can see the prawns start to turn pink. Turn the skewers over and continue to fry for a further 3 to 4 minutes until the prawns are completely pink.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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