Prawn Dhansak is a an easy and protein-packed curry recipe that’s ready in just 30 minutes. Picture king prawns delicately cooked with red lentils, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and fragrant spices – so YUM! This Slimming friendly curry will soon become one of your favourite dishes.
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Comfort food that’s good for you AND diet friendly? Look no further than this prawn curry recipe! Prawn Dhansak hits all the right notes: filling but healthy, quick and suitable for Slimming World too.
Red lentil based curries are brilliant for weekday meals as they cook really quick. Dhansak curries can be made with red meat, chicken or prawns and this version is probably the quickest, ready in just 30 minutes.
I first published this recipe several years ago but now I have updated with more comprehensive instructions, Slimming World modifications, step photos plus a recipe video.
- Raw king prawns (shrimp) defrosted
- Onions and garlic
- Green chillies, finely diced
- Fresh ginger, very finely grated using a Microplane
- Spices: mustard seeds, cardamom pods, mild curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, chilli powder
- Tomatoes: you can use fresh diced tomatoes or tinned chopped tomatoes and tomato paste
- Red lentils: always rinse before using
- Pineapple: I used to add pineapple chunks in this Dhansak as my kids loved them. You can use or not, up to you!
How to defrost prawns
You can use raw or frozen prawns in this simple curry recipe, I usually prefer frozen ones as they are just a little bit cheaper and easier to source. Most raw prawns you find in supermarkets have been frozen first after all, even if they are on sale as ‘fresh’. Note this if you are planning to freeze this recipe: you can only freeze it if you are using FRESH prawns or shrimp.
Luckily frozen prawns are easy and quick to defrost – simply place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Stir the prawns, drain the water and repeat a couple of times. Leave for up to 10 minutes then drain and use.
By the way if you are asking yourself if prawns and shrimp are the same thing they are, technically, slightly different. Fear not if you wanted to make a shrimp curry you are in the right place. You can use large (sometimes called jumbo) prawns or shrimp in this recipe.
A SLIMMING FRIENDLY CURRY
This curry is suitable for Slimming World with very minor modifications – using cooking spray such as Fry Light instead of oil, sweetener instead of sugar and fresh pineapple instead of tinned, if you are using it at all.
Not only is this curry FREE, it’s also very filling and satisfying. Make a large batch so you can enjoy the leftovers, it tastes even better the following day. Serve over brown rice to up the fibre content!
How to make prawn Dhansak
Take a look at this step by step tutorial – please note you will find the full recipe, including ingredients in the recipe card at the end of this post.
STEP 1. Heat the oil* (or use ghee for a more authentic version) in a large pan. Fry the spices, ginger and chillies for a couple of minutes over medium-high heat until the mustard seeds start to pop. Take care the spices don’t burn.
* If you are making a slimming curry you can dry fry the spices in a non-stick pan instead and use low calorie cooking spray (Fry Light) to cook the onions.
STEP 2. Lower the heat and add the chopped onions. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring to coat in the fragrant spices, until softened.
STEP 3. Add the ginger, garlic, bay leaves and chillies and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring.
STEP 4. Add the red lentils and stir. Add the stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, pineapple (if using), and sugar or sweetener.
STEP 5. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat, partially cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are quite soft – about 20 minutes.
STEP 6. Add the prawns and lemon juice and stir them in. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Check if you need to top up with water if the pan is too dry and food is sticking.
STEP 7. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Garnish with chopped coriander (cilantro) and red chilli flakes. Serve over basmati rice or simply on its own.
TIPS AND FAQS
- What to serve with Prawn Dhansak: serve your curry over basmati rice with a little Greek yoghurt if you like.
- How long can I keep in the fridge? cool the curry completely and store in the fridge for up to three days. You might need to add a little water when reheating as the curry is quite thick.
- Do not freeze this curry unless you use FRESH PRAWNS when you make it. Check the prawns haven’t been frozen and then sold as ‘fresh’ first. Cool completely after cooking, divide into suitable containers and freeze for up to a month. Defrost overnight in the fridge and heat on the stove, adding a little water if needed. Make sure the curry is piping hot all the way through before serving.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee for frying or use low calorie cooking spray
- 2 onions peeled and finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger peeled and finely diced
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar or sweetener for SW version (optional)
- 1 green chilli finely diced
- 4 cardamom pods lightly crushed
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsp mild curry powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 200 g | 1 cup red lentils rinsed
- 450 g | 1 pound raw peeled prawns (shrimp) defrosted if frozen
- 400 g | 14oz tinned chopped tomatoes or you can use 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 625 ml | 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock more if needed
- 400 g | 14oz tin pineapple chunks in juice or fresh pineapple (OPTIONAL)
- 1/2 lemon juice only
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped to garnish
- pinch red chilli flakes to garnish
- Heat the oil (or use ghee for a more authentic version) in a large pan. Fry the spices, ginger and chillies for a couple of minutes over medium-high heat until the mustard seeds start to pop.Take care the spices don’t burn. SLIMMING WORLD VERSION: Dry fry the spices in a non stick pan until aromatic.
- Lower the heat and add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until softened.SLIMMING WORLD VERSION: use low calorie cooking spray instead of oil.
- Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the red lentils and stir. Add the stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, pineapple (if using), and sugar (or sweetener).
- Bring to the boil. Lower the heat, partially cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are quite soft – about 20 minutes.
- Add the prawns and lemon juice and stir them in. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Check if you need to top up with water if the pan is too dry and food is sticking.
- Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Garnish with chopped coriander (cilantro) and red chilli flakes.
- Serve with basmati rice and naan bread or simply on its own.
Please note I am not affiliated in any way with Slimming World. Syn values are based on the Slimming World online calculator.
Nutritional information is always approximate, and will depend on quality of ingredients and serving sizes.
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