Sri Lankan Green Masala Shrimp

By Published On: January 13th, 2020

Learn how I actually tricked a restaurant owner out of this delicious, colourful Sri Lankan treat. It’s one of my all-time favourite curries and thanks to my detective work, you can enjoy it too! Learn how…

Sri Lankan Green Masala Shrimp

The recipe for these Sri Lankan Malasa Shrimp (prawns) was gradually tricked out of one of my favourite Sydney restaurant owners over a decade ago. The sadly now closed Sri Lankan Janani restaurant was close to my house and close to my heart - incredible in many ways.

Incredibly grubby, incredibly chaotic but incredibly tasty! The owner/waitress/chef was a lovely lady who would show you the menu then proceed to tell you that you could have nothing from it - she would persuasively instruct you what you needed to order then disappear into the kitchen to cook it. At some point in the evening you'd receive your food and forgive any wait. Triumphant potato bonda, egg hoppers and the most incredible kottu roti.

Unlocking the flavours of Sri Lankan green masala shrimp

This dish was cooked for us on one visit, not on the menu of course. It was so delicious I tried to get the recipe from her. She was having none of it. I called out a few ingredients that I thought may be in there and got the stock standard indian/Sri Lankan sidewards nod (the hilarious non committal yes or no). From her smiles at my guesses I deduced a couple of ingredients on that visit - copious curry leaves, cilantro and interestingly, mint.

Over the course of a year, we'd gradually get more and more ingredients. Each time, she thought she was being super clever and coy - little did she know I was playing a long game. In time I concluded that I had all the ingredients and decided to finally give it go at home.

A complex marrying of spice and freshness.

The sauce is a complex but surprisingly simple combination of fresh ingredients to give a wonderful fresh herbal taste with a hit of chilli heat. The tartness of lime and creaminess of coconut milk combine perfectly. This curry is light, bright and packed with every ounce of flavour it can muster.

The taste is almost identical to the secret recipe, and the secret's out! I have no desire to hide this from the world! It's all yours! My addition of fried herbs is my own and adds not only a textural delight, but the flavour of fried fresh curry leaves is out of this world!

It's quick and easy to make at home too. The prawns are the perfect protein and bring a beautiful sweetness to the zingy sauce. It's one of my favourite seafood curries ever. I'm so glad I tricked my way to a quite amazing recipe.

More Indian and Sri Lankan Curries

Sri Lankan Green Masala Shrimp

Sri Lankan Green Masala Shrimp

Rate this recipe

4.43 from 7 votes
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Recipe by Lee
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 403


For the fried herb garnish (optional) - you can use fresh herbs to garnish too.

  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 2 stems fresh curry leaves (leaves removed - stems discarded)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

For the masala paste

  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 2 stems fresh curry leaves (leaves removed - stems discarded)
  • 4 - 8 fresh Indian or Thai chillies - seeds in (you decide how hot you want it)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

For the curry sauce


For the fried herb garnish (optional)

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat until just rippling. NOW! BE VERY CAREFUL - HERBS SPLATTER LIKE FIREWORKS SO DO THIS NEXT STAGE WITH CAUTION! In small batches, add the herbs to the oil. They'll splatter violently then begin to sizzle. Let them sizzle for 10-20 seconds then remove to a waiting paper towel. Repeat with all the herbs. Set aside.

How to make the green masala paste

  • Using a stick blender or food processor, blend into a paste the herbs, curry leaves, chillies and coconut milk. Set aside.

How to make the curry

  • Heat the coconut oil in a wok over a moderate heat until hot. Add the onion/shallots and fry them for about 2-3 minutes until soft.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 1 minute before adding the ground cumin, coriander and cardamom. Let this sizzle for 30 seconds before adding the shrimp. Season generously with salt & pepper. Stir fry the shrimp for 1-2 minutes until pink.
  • Add the green masala paste and stir well. Let it come to a boil then pour in the coconut milk and the same amount (1 cup) of water. Bring this to a boil and let it bubble merrily for 5 minutes to cook the prawns through. Remove from the heat. Scatter over the crisp fried herbs and squeeze over the lime. That's it!
  • Serve with plenty of fluffy basmati rice to soak up the utterly delicious sauce.


Calories: 403kcal (20%) | Carbohydrates: 13.8g (5%) | Protein: 29.7g (59%) | Fat: 27.1g (42%) | Saturated Fat: 20g (125%) | Cholesterol: 239mg (80%) | Sodium: 309mg (13%) | Potassium: 715mg (20%) | Fiber: 6.4g (27%) | Sugar: 2.8g (3%)
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Sri Lankan Green Masala Shrimp

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