Marathi Kolambi Masala

Prawns cooked in a spicy coconut gravy with curry leaves, cumin and chillies


Growing up in Indian coastal region always meant we could guarantee the produce was fresh, very much local and seasonal. Seafood has been part of the staple diet for those living in cities across Maharashtra, Bengal also regions of Southern India. My mum reveled in all the abundance of fresh prawns, crabs and fish. Even today cooking the family a meal with fresh fish always makes her happy. Buying in bulk, stocking up on variety and cooking up a feast for the weekend was the done thing. I have in previous posts written about my visits to local fish markets when I was younger. There was fish curry, fried prawns, stuffed fish, fried crabs and also spicy fried roe. Most recipes my mother cooks are based around influences from where my family are based (Maharashtra) and also handed down from my grandmother/ great grandmother (who were both very much fond of good food and cooked some amazing meals in the 1940’s & 50’s in Mumbai) Maharashtra is a massive region in itself on the west coast of India and Mumbai is just a small snippet of the gorgeous food this region offers. Our food and the variety of dishes stem across the region including flavours from Malwan, Pune, Nagpur and Solapur to name a few. Mainly based around the community where my family hails from which is Pathare Prabhu’s and Brahmins. The former is where seafood is very much part of the diet and the latter where my influences for hearty Indian vegetarian fare comes from with the inclusion of sweet & tart flavours to the food.

Living in the UK, I’m fortunate to have some of the freshest variety on offer across the North east coastline. This recipe for Marathi Kolambi Masala needs chunky sweet, good sized prawns that can stand up to all the robust flavours of the spices & chillies with the contrasting textures of grated coconut. This dish is rustic and although the list of ingredients seem long I assure you tucking into every bite of the ‘kolambi’/ prawns coated in the thick coconut sauce with soft chapattis and some raita in tow is nothing short of delicious.


  1. Place the prawns in a bowl with the turmeric and salt. Mix well and set aside while you make the spice powder and paste.

  2. Heat a small frying pan and roast all the spice powder ingredients for 7-10 mins on a low heat. Stir every few minutes until they start to release their aroma and change colour. Cool and grind to a fine powder in a coffee/ spice grinder.


  3. For the paste heat the tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Fry the sliced onion on medium heat for 7-10 minutes. As it starts to turn light brown add the grated coconut. Fry for 12-15 minutes stirring frequently. The coconut will start to change colour to a light brown as well. Turn the heat off. Cool the mix and add to a blender with some water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.


  4. To make the curry; heat the oil in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add half the curry leaves letting them splutter for a few seconds. Add the onions and fry on a medium heat for 7-10 minutes. Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes; they will begin to soften. At this stage add the coconut paste and fry for 3-4 minutes it will start to leave oil from the sides of the pan. Add 2 tbsp of spiced powder along with the chilli powder and stir well frying for a couple of minutes.

  5. Now tip in the prawns and cook and simmer for 2-3 minutes until they start to turn opaque and just cooked through. Add the vinegar, sugar and check for seasoning. Also add the coconut milk and the remaining curry leaves. Simmer for a further minute. Turn the heat off garnish with fresh coriander & lemon juice. Serve with a choice of Indian bread or steamed rice.

  • Alex

    This curry is veeery particular, very strong on the flavour front, but i guess the trouble was that i didn’t have the fresh coconut so i used the dry shredded one and 100gr of the shredded coconut is paramount – i didn’t put that into consideration actually, would you suggest that for those of us who live outside the uk and don’t have the fresh coconut easily avaiable use like say 60% of the indicated amount or so? Of course the difference in taste is obvious it goes without saying.. However, this was one of the most fun dishes that i have engaged in, i’ve enjoyed it of course, it is not a kind of curry to gobble down, but something to enjoy in small amounts, very exciting and chic! I love your blog, every recipe comes with taste good guarantee for sure!

  • nilesh

    I’m gonna try this today….

  • Gautam Ganesh

    Hi. Thanks for the recipe. I tried it just now and followed every instruction to the ‘T’ and it turned out superb! Cheers.

  • Avdhut

    Thank you very much. I will try this.

  • Nitha

    I’m making this dish for lunch today. I’m quite surprised to note that neither ginger nor garlic has been used. Is that right or am I missing something? Fingers crossed!

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Your righ there isnt. This is my mum’s recipe and she never added any but it was always delicious! Hope you enjoyed it!:)

  • Zita Lorna Schoonraad

    What an absolutely superb dish! I made it with fish, because that’s what I had at home. The caramelisation process of the onions made the dish sweet enough not to have to add any sugar. I love your site, and am slowly cooking my way through it! ♥

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Thank you! How lovely to hear this. This prawns recipe is my fave too.


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