Bengali Style Shrimp Curry

Shrimp curry is spicy and slightly sweet and absolutely delicious! This is my mother’s recipe and it was my favorite to eat growing up. It’s simple to make, with a caramelized onion base, spices, and shrimp—that’s it!

The Base

Shrimp Curry Base

All Bengali curry bases (at least the ones I have learned from my Bengali mother) starts with a sautéed onion base. Warm oil in a pot and add onions and salt. The salt helps the break down the onion by drawing out its moisture. Cover and cook on low heat until golden and caramelized—about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Once golden, add minced garlic and Thai chili. Cook until fragrant, just a few minutes will do.

Then it’s time for spices—a teaspoon each or turmeric, red chili powder, and coriander powder. Mix the spices into the onions and let it toast in the oil; about five minutes. Make sure to keep the heat on low to prevent burning!

Then add chopped tomatoes, mix, cover, and cook until they’re completely soft and melt into the onions. Your base is ready!

The Shrimp

Colossal Shrimp

You can use any shrimp for this curry buuuuuut the larger the better! My absolute favorite was when my mother would make it with giant tiger prawns.

Once cooked, shrimp curl up and shrink in size, so the larger the better. I can’t always find tiger prawns so I usually use peeled and deveined colossal shrimp with tails on.

Once the onion base is ready, add shrimp, mix it in, cover, and cook. The shrimp will release its juices and marry together with the rest of the base. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the oil separates from the sauce. Check for salt and add if needed, then garnish with coriander and it’s ready!

We love to eat this with white rice or pulao—which is a buttery rice with sautéed onions and sometimes small vegetables like chopped carrots and peas.

Shrimp Curry Over Pulao


Time: 1 hour

Serves: 6-8

  • 1/4 cup neutral oil—like grape seed
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 Thai chili peppers
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 36 oz colossal shrimp or any large shrimp
  • Cilantro to garnish


1. Heat a pot on low. Add onions and salt—cook, covered, until golden and caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes

2. Add garlic and Thai chili. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add spices. Mix and cook for 5 minutes until toasted

3. Add tomatoes, mix, and cover. Cook until tomatoes break down

4. Add shrimp and mix. Cover and cook until the shrimp releases its juices and oil separates from the curry—about 15 minutes

5. Garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy with rice!

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