This Burmese prawn curry is the recipe featured in our first ever Cooking with Grandma video. In the video, Alvina Mangrai shows her granddaughter Alyssa how to make the curry that she first learned to make when she was pregnant and living in the United States after moving from Burma. Pat Tanumihardja, author of the blog The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, transcribed the recipe and shared it with CHOW. She’ll also include it in her book, due out in either late 2009 or early 2010. This curry can be served with Alvina’s coconut rice, also shown in the video.

What to buy: Sambal oelek is a straight-up chile sauce, without garlic or any other flavors added. It is commonly used in Asian cooking and can be found in the Asian section of your market or online.

  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 30 mins 
  • Active: 30 mins

Ingredients (13)

  • 1 pound medium prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (from a 1-inch piece)
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon prepared chile paste, such as sambal oelek
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish
  • Coconut Rice, for serving


  1. Combine prawns, 1/2 the garlic, the fish sauce, curry powder, turmeric, and black pepper in a large bowl and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until it starts to shimmer. Add the remaining garlic and the ginger and cook and stir until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the onion and cook and stir until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the paprika and chile paste and stir until the onion is evenly coated.
  3. Add the prawns and arrange them in one layer on the bottom of the skillet. Raise the heat to medium high and cook until just opaque, about 3 minutes, turning the shrimp over halfway through. Then stir until the shrimp are fully cooked (cut into a piece for a peek). Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and stir with a couple more flourishes.
  4. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve with coconut rice and a vegetable side dish.