Recipe – CHEMMEEN MAPPAS (prawns cooked in coconut milk gravy)

Chemmeen Mappas is the traditional dish of Kerala cuisine. It’s simple, easy and delicious. Using fresh ingredients gives a unique taste to the curry. My mum cooks it often and she prepares in many different ways. The base curry can be made with chicken and beef too.

Here, the prawns is cooked with thin extract of coconut milk and is lightly spiced; to finish up and to give a creamy texture to this subtle curry, thick coconut milk is added. Try to buy fresh prawns and do not over cook prawns as they turn rubbery and tough. Brindleberry can be replaced with tomatoes. For the heat, I have put green chillies; can be reduced as per spice tolerance and chilly powder can be added. Enjoy it with rice or appams.

Fresh prawns cooked in lightly spiced coconut milk and flavoured with brindleberry in all goodness to suit your taste-buds.

Prep time : 15 mins, Cooking time : 10 mins, Cuisine : Kerala, Serves : 4, Author : Gloria


500 gms fresh prawns

1 large sized onion (sliced)

1“ ginger (sliced/crushed)

3-4 big garlic cloves (sliced/crushed)

8 nos green chillies (slit lengthwise)

2-3 pieces of brindleberry/kudumpuli (soaked in little warm water for 10 mins)

1½ cup – 1st extract of coconut milk (thick)

½ cup – 2nd extract of coconut milk (diluted in water)

salt to taste

coconut oil

spice powders:

1 tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp black pepper powder

¼ tsp fennel powder

2 tbsp coriander powder

For tempering :

1/4 tsp mustard seeds

few curry leaves

6 nos fenugreek seeds

1-2 whole red chillies

1 dsp finely sliced onions/shallots


Gently peel shells and head of the prawns; keep the tail intact and de-vain them. Wash nicely.

Take a clay-pot or a deep bottom pan and heat oil. Add green chillies, ginger, garlic and onion. Sauté till onion turn light golden brown.

Into this, add the spice powders and sauté again constantly for few minutes on low heat till they are cooked, releasing good aroma.

Add thin extract of the coconut milk (2nd extract). Once it comes to a gentle boil, add brindleberry (kudumpuli) and salt.

Now, add the prawns and cook covered on low heat for 4-5 mins. Swirl the pot occasionally. As the gravy thickens at this stage, add the 1st extract of coconut milk (thick) and swirl again. Switch off heat.

Finally, do the tempering mentioned in ‘for tempering’ section in the same order. Add it to the curry. Close the lid and allow it to rest for sometime.

Serve it with appams or rice.




Fresh fish is abundant in Goa; hence goan cuisine uses lots of seafood which are delicious, simple and easy, packed with depth of flavours.

I love Goan fish/prawns curries and always enjoy it with extra serving of hot steamed rice. The first time I had Goan prawns curry was when I visited my mother’s house during holidays and the taste still lingers by.

Today, am sharing this curry from the beautiful coast of Goa. Here, I used two souring agents which gives acidity to the dish i.e., tamarind and kokum; used fish stock instead of plain water and a combination of two chillies one to give heat and other to add colour.

Goan Prawns Masala is a classic traditional dish made in many house-holds across Goa. Using fresh ingredients will lift this curry and make it more flavourful. This simple, tasty, easy to prepare dish is a comfort meal for all fish lovers and will definitely crave for more. Serve over hot cooked rice – heavenly!!!!

Fresh and juicy slow-cooked prawns in a delicate blend of coconut milk along with host of spices and grated coconut with a mild tanginess from the kokum.

Prep time:15 minutes, Cooking time: 15 mins, Cuisine: Goan, Serves : 6, Author : Gloria


300 gms prawns (peeled, de-veined, cleaned)

1 small onion chopped/sliced finely

2 green chillies

3 kokum pieces

¾ c water or fish stock

½ c coconut milk

few curry leaves

salt to taste


To grind together:

½ c grated coconut

¼ tsp cumin seeds

6-7 byadgi chillies or kashmiri red chillies

3 dry bird’s eye chillies

2 tbsp coriander seeds

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ inch ginger

3 garlic cloves

half inch tamarind

To prep:

  • Grate 1 fresh coconut; use half to grind along with the spices and the other half to extract coconut milk.

  • Apply sea salt and pinch of turmeric to the prawns; keep aside

  • Pre-heat a pan and dry roast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, whole red chillies and grated coconut separately over low-medium heat for a 1-2 mins without burning any ingredients, tossing / stirring with a spoon while they roast. Before switching off the heat, add turmeric powder. Blend along with ginger, garlic, tamarind. Make a smooth paste adding water. Reserve.*


Take a large skillet or an earthern pot, tip some oil and when it heats up add curry leaves, green chillies and onion. Sauté till the onion turn golden brown in colour for 4 mins.

Now, add the finely grounded paste* and continue to saute for some time on low heat till oil emanates on top. At this point, add water/fish stock and bring it to boil on medium heat.

Add kokum; when the gravey thickens a little, add prawns. Simmer and cook for 5 mins or till done.

Do a taste-test and if required, add salt.

Finally, pour the coconut milk. Give a gentle stir and switch off heat.

Serve with hot steamed rice of your choice – Enjoy!!!!

My observations/notes:

  • can replace prawns with any firm-fleshed fish like kingfish, hallibut, pomfret or tuna

  • use fresh ingredients ie, prawns, coconut and spices

  • can increase chillies as per tolerance

  • can also increase the amount of prawns

  • the curry consistency is neither thick nor thin so add water accordingly

  • since fresh curry leaves is rarely available in Europe, I have skipped it