Thai Tamarind Prawn Curry Recipe

Tamarind Prawn Curry is a tangy and spicy seafood stew from Thailand. It’s one of the few Thai curries that is coconut free.

Tamarind Prawns is a decadent comfort food recipe, typically served in Thai restaurants as a main course or entree with steamed jasmine rice.

Traditional recipes feature ingredients like fresh shrimp, garlic, shallots, cilantro, red chili, palm sugar, tamarind puree, and fish sauce.

We’ve traveled extensively through Thailand and eaten at all of the best Thai restaurants in Toronto. We’ve taken Thai cooking classes in Chang Mai and learned expert cooking techniques courtesy of the executive chef at JW Marriott Phuket Resort.

Cooking Thai food at home is easy and delicious. We suggest doubling this Tamarind Prawn recipe as we know you’ll love loitering over leftovers all week!

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What Are Tamarind Prawns?

Tamarind is a leguminous tree bearing edible fruit that is indigenous to tropical Africa. Today it is cultivated around the world in tropical and subtropical zones.

The tamarind tree produces brown, pod-like fruits that contain a sweet, tangy pulp, which is used in cuisines around the world.

Tamarind’s tender young leaves are used in Indian and Filipino cuisine. Tamarind pods are typically sold as a pulp or puree in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Laos and Singapore.

Thailand’s ubiquitous Pad Thai noodle dish gets its distinct flavour from Tamarind.

If you’re looking to appreciate the unique flavour of tamarind we suggest cooking yourself a delicious Thai Tamarind Prawn Curry.

Traditional Thai Tamarind Prawn Curry recipe ingredients!
Traditional Thai Tamarind Prawn Curry recipe ingredients!

Travel to Thailand by Cooking Tamarind Prawn Curry at Home

I love traveling through Asia.

My first visit had me living in South Korea for a year as a teacher and it’s where I was first introduced to fermented vegetables like kimchi.

After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout southeast Asia for 6 months, visiting PhilippinesIndonesiaMalaysiaSingaporeCambodia, MyanmarThailandVietnam and Laos.

On my first visit I spent over a month backpacking through Thailand. I’ve revisited Thailand two times since as a food and travel journalist and always love to discover new regional dishes. Over the years I’ve explored Thai destinations such as Ko Phi Phi, Krabi, Chiang Khong, Chang Mai, Sukothai and Bangkok.

What I found most fascinating is Thailand’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in GermanyItaly or Spain, each town in Thailand had its own local speciality.

Tamarind Prawn Curry is a dish most commonly cooked in Southern Thailand. Fresh seafood is bountiful throughout the postcard-perfect beaches of Thailand’s tropical islands. Our favourite way to cook with tamarind at home is by preparing this seafood stew using shrimp or prawns.

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Authentic Tamarind Prawn Curry is flavoured with garlic, shallots, chili and cilantro root.
Authentic Tamarind Prawn Curry is flavoured with garlic, shallots, chili and cilantro root.

Where To Eat Tamarind Prawns

If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Thai restaurant that serves traditional Tamarind Prawn Curry.

Haven’t traveled to Thailand before? It may be helpful to first taste Tamarind Prawns at a local Thai restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can also assess the ideal size of prawns to use, the perfect spicy heat level, and get ideas on other Thai dishes to serve alongside the popular entree.

I spent months researching the best Thai restaurants in Toronto, visiting popular restaurants that serve authentic Thai dishes such as Sabai Sabai, Sukothai, Khao San Road, Pai, Kiin, Bangkok Garden, Mengrai Thai and Favorites Thai BBQ. If you’re looking to sample authentic Tamarind Prawn Curry in Toronto try visiting one of these award-winning restaurants.

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Cook Tamarind Prawn Curry in a large nonstick skillet.
Cook Tamarind Prawn Curry in a large nonstick skillet.

My Family Loves Tamarind Prawn Curry

After visiting Thailand multiple times I wanted to prepare a unique Thai dish that I had tasted on my travels but that I don’t always see on North American Thai restaurant menus.

I knew my parents would love this curry because they enjoy fresh shrimp, saucy Thai curries and the tangy tamarind flavour in Pad Thai.

My family are very heat sensitive. They can barely handle spicy chili peppers or their faces turn red and steam billows out of their ears. I removed all of the seeds in the chilies in this recipe so it was a much milder curry sauce that they could handle.

We love to make this Tamarind Prawn recipe when we host Thai-themed dinner parties. We like to try and include a selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes as well as curies made with beef, pork, chicken and seafood. Serving a “Thai smorgasbord” gives your guests lots of options and an opportunity to find a new favourite dish!

Tamarind Prawn Curry sauce is spicy, sour and tangy.
Tamarind Prawn Curry sauce is spicy, sour and tangy.

Health Benefits

Our Tamarind Prawn Curry recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!

Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.

Chili has been proven to help reduce the duration of sickness, prevent heart disease, and promote weight loss. 

Seafood is a high-protein food that is low in calories, total fat, and saturated fat. High in vitamins and minerals, seafood has been shown to have numerous health benefits including decreasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity, and hypertension.

A good source of bone-strengthening vitamin K, cilantro is also rich in antioxidants that help protect the eyes from damage by free radicals. 

Garnish Tamarind Prawn Curry with fried shallots and cilantro.
Garnish Tamarind Prawn Curry with fried shallots and cilantro.

Tamarind Prawn Curry Recipe Cooking Tips

This yummy homemade Tamarind Prawn Curry recipe is quick and easy to make at home.

  • We suggest preparing Tamarind Prawns in a large wok to reduce splatter when cooking.
  • You can purchase fresh tamarind pods at your local Asian supermarket or purchase tamarind paste or puree online.
  • You can use prawns, shrimp or even lobster in this spicy and tangy Thai curry.
  • We’ve deshelled the prawns and shrimp in this recipe but you can keep on the tails to add more seafood flavour to the sauce. They also offer more dramatic eye-appeal when the dish arrives at the table.
  • Authentic Thai curry recipes are sweetened with palm sugar, which is available for purchase at Asian supermarkets. You can substitute for brown sugar as it’s more widely available in North America.
  • We’ve used Thai long red chilies. If you like spicier food feel free to use the tiny Bird’s Eye Chili.
  • We’ve used chicken stock in this recipe but you can use seafood stock instead.
This easy Tamarind Prawns recipe is a traditional Thai curry dish.
This easy Tamarind Prawns recipe is a traditional Thai curry dish.

What To Serve with Tamarind Prawns

Tamarind Prawns are typically enjoyed as a main dish, served alongside a bowl of steamed jasmine rice.

If you’re hosting a large Thai dinner party, we suggest serving homemade Tamarind Prawn Curry buffet-style with other popular Thai dishes like:

Thai Prawn Curry keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days so store it in an airtight container.

We love serving Tamarind Prawns as an entree at a Thai dinner party.
We love serving Tamarind Prawns as an entree at a Thai dinner party.

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Now you're an expert on how to make the best homemade Tamarind Prawn Curry recipe!
Now you’re an expert on how to make the best homemade Tamarind Prawn Curry recipe!

How To Make Thai Tamarind Prawn Curry

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4.50 from 2 votes

Thai Tamarind Prawn Curry

How to make traditional Tamarind Prawn Curry. Our easy Thai seafood curry is spicy, tangy and sour, garnished with cilantro & fried shallots.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: Tamarind Prawn Curry
Servings: 4
Calories: 263kcal


  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • French knife
  • Large Skillet or Wok
  • Spatula or Wooden Spoon


  • 1/4 cup Fried Shallots
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Shallots chopped
  • 2 Cilantro Roots (or 6 stems)
  • 2 Thai Chilies
  • 4 tbsp Vegetable Oil seperated
  • 9 oz Raw Prawns
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Stock
  • 3 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 3 tbsp Tamarind Puree
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Jalapeno Peppers sliced
  • 1 tbsp Cilantro chopped


  • Pound the garlic, shallots, cilantro root, and Thai chilies in a mortar and pestle into a rough paste. Alternatively, process them in a small food processor.
  • In a wok or saute pan, heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the prawns and sear until browned. Flip and sear the other side. Turn off the heat, remove the prawns from the pan, and set aside.
  • Over medium-low heat, saute the herb paste in 2 tbsp vegetable oil until aromatic. Add the chicken stock, brown sugar, tamarind juice and fish sauce and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let the sauce reduce until it is thick enough to coat the shrimp. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Toss in the jalapeno peppers and remove from the heat.
  • Remove the prawns, leaving the sauce behind, and set aside in a bowl. Pour the sauce onto the serving plate, then arrange the prawns neatly on top of the sauce. Top generously with fried shallots, and garnish with cilantro.


Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.8g | Protein: 16.1g | Fat: 14.9g | Saturated Fat: 3.1g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 889mg | Potassium: 303mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 10.9g | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 1mg

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