Summer curry: Prawns and courgettes cooked in yoghurt with freshly roasted spices

I was feeling particularly energetic and enthusiastic yesterday, maybe it was the newly arrived sunshine, or maybe it was due to  having my first couple of glasses of rose wine this year (which was actually due to the sunshine anyway).

Anyhow, I decided to roast and grind my own spices, rather than delving into my customary collection of ready ground powders.
I’ve done this several times before, but for some reason (laziness in all probability) I always seem to remember it as a more laborious and work intensive process than it actually is.
In reality, you can have a bowl full of freshly roasted and ground spices in about 5-7 mins, and for the resulting flavour, it’s well worth it. It’s certainly something I’ll be doing more from now on.
Because of the aforementioned sunshine, I thought a prawn and courgette (or zucchini to the Americans amongst you) curry, would be a suitable light and fresh tasting option at this time of year.
The amounts here will serve between 2-4 people, depending on appetite (or greediness)..


  • 2 medium onions
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 pce fresh ginger (1-1/12 inches)
  • 2 red chillies
  • 3 tsps coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cardamon pods
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1tsp mustard powder
  • 450-500g prawns (raw or cooked)
  • 2 courgettes (zucchini)
  • 3 tblsp natural yoghurt
  • 3 tblsp boiling water
  • 1tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • juice of half a lemon


The first thing I did was to assemble the whole spices for roasting: 3 tsp coriander seeds, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 3 cardamon pods:

Whole spices

Heat a dry pan until very hot. Throw in the spices. After a few seconds you should get a wonderful aroma. Gently shake the pan to move/turn the spices.

Spices roasting in the pan

After 20-30 secs, the spices will start to colour and smoke. When this has happened (before they start to burn) remove from the heat and pour them into a mortar ready to ground with the pestle.

Ready for grinding

First crush the spices with firm downward strokes, then use a circular motion to reduce the crushed spices to a powder. Should take no more than 3-4 mins.

Ground spices

Next, chop and prepare the ingredients for the base of the sauce: Onions, ginger, garlic and red chillies.

Sauce base ingredients

Fry the base ingredients in a pan:

Base ingredient frying

Meanwhile, chop the courgettes into chunky pieces:

Courgette chopped into chunks

When the base ingredients have softened in the pan, add the ground spices, together with the tumeric and mustard powder, and fry.

Fry the spices

Add the courgette and coat in the spices.

Add the courgette

Next add the yoghurt and stir in.

Add the yohurt

Add the boiling water, mix well and leave to simmer on low uncovered for 20-30 mins, taking care not to dry up to much. Don’t worry if the yoghurt appears to curdle, you won’t notice when the sauce is cooked down.

Sauce cooked down

After the sauce has simmered and cooked down get ready to add the prawns. I used cooked prawns because I couldn’t get raw ones. Either is ok. If using cooked, just warm through thoroughly. If using raw, simmer until they go pink.


Add the prawns and 1/2 bunch of fresh coriander (chopped) to the sauce.

Prawns and coriander added to sauce

Stir around thoroughly to coat all the prawns.

Stir in the prawns

Simmer for a few mins until the prawns are heated through thoroughly and have flavoured the sauce. Add the salt to taste at this point, and squeeze in the lemon.

Ready to serve

Serve, garnished with the rest of the fresh coriander. (Shown here with a buttered mushroom and saffron pullao)

Served out


About Gourmet Gorman
I'm a musician who enjoys cooking

16 Responses to Summer curry: Prawns and courgettes cooked in yoghurt with freshly roasted spices

  1. You got me with the spice list. OMgosh! The depth of flavour must be incredible. You are my music foodie hero!

  2. leeswammes says:

    Look very nice (except that I don’t eat prawns, but I’m quite good at substituting items for vegetarian options).

    Just wondered, when I make a curry I use coconut cream, never yoghurt. Do you think using yoghurt is Indian and to use coconut is Thai? Or can you use either?

    • You can definately use either. But if I’m cooking Thai I’ll normally use tinned coconut milk, whereas in Indian food, I use creamed coconut which normally comes in a block. Have a look at the Boy George tourbus slowcooker post. There’s a curry recipe on there in which I used coconut.
      I’ll normally use yoghurt as a less rich but still creamy alternative. It also gives it a nice tangy thing 🙂

      • leeswammes says:

        Thanks for explaining. I’m quite new with Asian foods as half of my family won’t eat it. So I can only try it out when I make two meals at the same time (one of “them” and one for “us”), so that takes some doing.

  3. cyberchef911 says:

    Love the prawn recepie have you tried it adding some ginger? Hope to hear from you soon .

  4. pasipiko says:

    Yum, this looks so good! I’ve always been intimidated by preparing Indian food, but I will someday have to attempt your recipes! 🙂

  5. foodielady says:

    nice pictures. thanks for your comments on my ossobuco recipe. regarding your question, i have never made ossobuco with lamb, but give it a try if you find lamb shanks. i have a veal fricassee recipe that might be good with lamb also. check it out at good luck!

  6. clarissa623 says:

    i didn’t think of roasting my spices at all, i shall do that next time. but my recipe didn’t use cardamon pods since it’s a bit expensive here. is it necessary?

    maybe you can tell me what the difference is between the thai and indian curry? 🙂 besides using creamed vs. tinned coconut. i’ve been asking around about it, but nobody seems to know the difference. 🙂

    • As far as I’m aware, there’s a fundamental principle behind thai cookery which is the balance of sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter flavours. Whereas Indian cookery is so different from coast to coast and north to south, there’s no unifying thing behind it really (I think at least).
      The sort of homemade currys I do basically use onion, ginger, garlic and chilli, and a combination of things like coriander, cumin, tumeric, mustard, paprika, cinnamon, clove, pepper, currys leaves etc etc.
      But if I was doing a Thai (in my limited experience) I would use things like lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce (even in meat dishes), thai basil, etc etc…
      So that’s my take on it…..but what do I know? I’m not a chef, I’m a piano player.. 🙂

      • clarissa623 says:

        oh yeah. lemongrass makes a big difference on the taste. i do have preference for putting basil in my curry too since it’s my favorite herb.

        and don’t worry, from a piano player, that was a lot of food stuff to learn 😀

  7. yamaonna says:

    This sounds really good! I want to try it, but I’m going to have to wait until zucchini comes in season here 😦 well, I’ll give some of your asparagus recipies a try in the meantime!

  8. sweetsobsessed says:

    This looks amazing! I haven’t done a lot of Indian-style cooking before, and I think I’ll have to start. I’ve toasted spices before but never ground them afterwards…I can’t wait to try it.

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