Shrimp Curry, British Style


Not all of the world curries are complicated formulas with rosters of a dozen or more ingredients. While I love an authentic Indian or Thai curry redolent of exotic aromatic ingredients I often crave the less complicated curries I came to love while working in England.

The British love their curries and every street corner seems to have at least one take-out curry shop offering some really fine fare. Yes, they’re often recipes dumbed down a bit for English taste buds, but the locals have made curry such a popular item that many consider the beloved British-style curry a national dish.

One of my favorite simplified English curries only requires two spice mixes that can now be found in every supermarket in the U.S. Curry powder, the blend that features the vivid yellow spice turmeric, can be purchased everywhere now and is available in mild and hot versions. The other blend is called garam masala and is a simple combo that usually includes cardamom, cinnamon and black pepper. McCormick makes a perfectly lovely version available in any grocery store that sells their line of spices. Once you have your curry powder and garam masala all you need is a handful of veggies and a bit of protein and you have the ingredients for a classic British style curry.

My favorite versions are made with shrimp or chicken. The vegetables I use are in keeping with the British versions and can include carrots, onions and sometimes peas and chunks of potatoes. In this recipe I have used shrimp, carrots and onions. I keep the carrots and onions in large pieces that keep their crunch. Serve with plain rice, and jarred mango chutney on the side (Sharwoods, the brand sold at Fresh & Easy Markets in Las Vegas is a mild, lovely, classic British brand I like a great deal). Wash it down with a can (or two) of Newcastle or Stella Artois beer and you are as good as sitting in a British living room watching Eastenders.

Shrimp Curry, British Style
1 lb raw large shrimp (I used 8/12 size) peeled & deveined
1 medium onion
2-3 large carrots
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp garam masala
2-3 teaspoon curry powder (hot or mild)
½ tsp salt (more or less to taste as some shrimp can be rather salty)
½ tsp sugar (white or brown)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (use less for a thicker sauce…boullion cubes are fine here)
8 ounces yogurt (NOT low fat or fat free. Full fat Greek style is best)

Place the peeled & deveined shrimp on a plate and pat dry. Sprinkle with the garam masala and half of the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Peel the carrots and cut into large 1 inch chunks. Peel the onion and cut into eighths.

Heat a non-stick pan to medium high heat. Add the shrimp and quickly sear on both sides. Remove to a plate and set aside (they will still be raw in the middle). Heat the pan up again over medium heat and add the remaining oil. Add the carrots & onions and stir fry for 3 minutes until the onions start to become transparent but are still crisp. Add the garlic, curry powder, salt & sugar.Stir fry one minute longer.

Add the broth and sugar to the carrots & onions and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes uncovered stirring occasionally. Return the shrimp to the pan along with the yogurt and stir gently to combine. Continue to simmer over low heat, stirring gently for 3-4 minutes longer just until the shrimp are firm and cooked through, the carrots should still be crunchy. Taste for salt and add salt as needed (some shrimp are naturally more salty than others). Remove from the heat.

Serve simply with lots of plain rice and a dollop of mango chutney on the side. Garnish with minced green onions if desired.

Sliced, boneless chicken breast (or better yet, sliced boneless chicken thighs) can be substituted for the shrimp in this recipe with fantastic results with no change in the rest of the recipe.

Serves 2.

    • Mark
    • June 13th, 2012

    I feel like my sauce isn’t thick enough, it is very liquidy

    • Yes, this is a thin curry. But if you like a thicker sauce, just reduce the broth to one cup OR thicken with 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in enough cold water to liquify. Add to the curry at the end (before you add the shrimp and yogurt), bring to a boil and serve.

  1. Where in this reciepe is the curry added?

    • At the end of the third step when the garlic is added. Thanks for your question…I’ve corrected the recipe.

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