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British Indian King Prawn Bhuna Curry

King prawn bhuna, a gloriously spicy Indian curry featuring succulent jumbo shrimp cooked in a rich thick sauce made of tomatoes & onions.

Despite the long ingredient list, this recipe is really easy to make, most of the cooking time is waiting for the sauce to thicken, the prawns themselves take just 5-6 minutes.

Indian king prawn or shrimp bhuna curry served with fresh coriander.

Jumbo Shrimp Bhuna

The good old bhuna curry is one of the most popular dishes in British Indian restaurants and it is also a personal favourite of mine.

I have a few iterations here on my website, all of which feature the curries defining thick and clingy sauce. However, they all have subtly different spicing, to complement the star of the dish, the stuff the sauce is there to support.

This prawn bhuna joins a beef bhuna, lamb bhuna and even a vegan vegetable bhuna!

Prawns and shrimp have a very subtle sweet flavour and as a result, some of the bold spicing has been scaled back to allow the prawns to shine through.

Let’s face it there ain’t no point shelling out (see what I did there) on pricy seafood and then hiding its subtle flavour.

Don’t worry, this is still a spicy Indian-influenced curry, it just does not overpower the wonderful shrimp.

It’s wonderfully simple too, even if the ingredient list appears long. The sauce can be made in advance and the jumbo shrimp are fried off in a little mustard oil for a couple of minutes and finished in the bhuna sauce for a few minutes.

If you like a prawn curry, then you must check out my prawn and mango curry recipe.

Close-up overhead king prawn or shrimp bhuna served with fresh coriander.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big are the prawns in this recipe?

I am using size 8/12 head-off shell-off frozen prawns, the size refers to how many you get per pound in weight.

This gives 4-5 large prawns per curry.

Can I use different size prawns?

Yes, naturally if you use smaller prawns they will need less cooking and larger will need longer cooking.

If you go smaller, aim not to finish them in the bhuna sauce but cook them in the pan for 2-3 minutes, then just toss them through the sauce.

How do I defrost prawns quickly?

I never defrost prawns in advance, quite often plans change and seafood ain’t great left in the fridge.

As a result, I almost always defrost my prawns when I need them by placing them in a sieve and then running cold water over them until they are defrosted.

It takes 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the shrimp.

Can I make this in advance?

I personally do not like reheating cooked prawns because they can overcook and become a little tough.

However, the sauce can be made in advance and it will happily sit in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Do I have to use mustard oil?

No, but it does add complexity to the dish, anything from groundnut oil to vegetable oil will work fine. Just avoid olive oil or other heavily flavoured oils and you will be fine.

You can even use ghee which gives the dish a wonderful richness, but it will smoke a lot when using it in this recipe.

Overhead king prawn or shrimp bhuna served with chapatis and fresh coriander.

Serving Suggestions

I may be a stuck record but an Indian curry just ain’t complete without flatbread if you ask me.

I prefer chapatis for this king prawn bhuna because the sauce is thick and clingy which means it is perfect for thinner flatbread.

However, if you are a naan bread fiend, go ahead and knock yourself out!

Of course, curry has a natural affinity with rice and this dish works well with everything from plain rice to pilau rice and Indian onion fried rice.

Potatoes offer a different vibe to the dish as a side and this curry is great with both roast Bombay potatoes and aloo methi.

Close-up king prawn or shrimp bhuna served with fresh coriander.

Equipment Used

I only name-check specific brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • Wok and some form of lid, tin foil is fine as is a damp piece of baking parchment.
  • 30cm or 12″ frying pan.
  • Mixing bowl to marinate the prawns.
  • Sieve or colander if you need to defrost the prawns quickly.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
  • Stirring and serving spoons.
Indian king prawn bhuna served with fresh coriander in an iron kadai.
Yield: 2 Servings

King Prawn Bhuna Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

A bhuna curry is one of the most popular "classic" dishes in British Indian restaurants, this king prawn bhuna features a thick and bold tomato and onion sauce and wonderfully spiced jumbo shrimp.


  • 350g Large King Prawns (Shelled Weight)
  • ¼ Tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Cumin
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Turmeric
  • ¼ Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard Oil

For the Bhuna Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp Mustard Oil
  • 300g (2 Cups) Onion
  • 250g (3 Small-Medium) Tomatoes
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 20g (Half of a thumb-sized piece) Ginger
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 1 Tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Fennel Seeds
  • ½ Tsp Ajwain Seeds
  • 4 Cardamom Pods
  • ½ Tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • ½ Tsp Ground Coriander
  • ¼ Tsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 75ml (⅓ Cup) Water
  • ¼-¾ Tsp Salt Add this to Taste
  • 1 Tsp Garam Masala


  1. Cut the onions in half and then peel them and cut them into 8 wedges.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into 8 wedges.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves and mash them to a paste.
  4. Peel and grate the ginger.
  5. Cut the chilli peppers in half lengthways.
  6. Heat a wok over a medium-high heat and add the mustard oil for the sauce, then throw in the chilli peppers, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, ajwain seeds and cardamom pods and fry for 30-60 seconds.
  7. Throw in the onions and cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat until they have softened and gone golden.
  8. Add the mashed garlic, grated ginger and tomato paste and stir for 60 seconds.
  9. Then add the tomatoes sugar, ground coriander, Kashmiri chilli powder and water then give everything a stir, add a lid, turn the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.
  10. Place the prawns in a medium mixing bowl then sprinkle over the spices and salt for the prawns, mix and set aside whilst the sauce cooks.
  11. 2-3 minutes before the sauce is ready heat the mustard oil for the prawns in a 30cm or 12" nonstick frying pan over a high heat and saute for a 1-2 minutes.
  12. Remove the lid from the sauce and mash the tomatoes with a back of a spoon and then add the king prawns, mix and cook for a final 3-4 minutes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 534Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 369mgSodium: 2347mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 7gSugar: 14gProtein: 45g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

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