Jungle curry prawns

Jungle curry.
Jungle curry. Photo: Murdoch Books

Be warned: jungle curries are generally hot curries! Traditionally, there is no coconut to absorb the heat of the chillies. However, they usually also feature plenty of fresh spices and vegetables, as is the case here. The final flavour is aromatic, hot and salty, but not scorching.


Jungle curry paste

10-12 dried red chillies

1 tsp white pepper

4 red Asian shallots

4 cloves garlic

1 stem, white part only, chopped lemon grass

1 tbsp finely chopped galangal

2 roots coriander (cilantro)

1 tbsp finely chopped ginger

1 tbsp dry roasted shrimp paste

1 tbsp peanut oil

1 clove, crushed garlic

For the curry

1 tbsp fish sauce

30g (¼ cup) ground candlenuts

300ml fish stock

1 tbsp whisky

3 makrut lime leaves, torn

600g peeled, raw prawns deveined, tails intact

1 small carrot, quartered lengthways, sliced thinly on the diagonal

150g snake beans, cut into 2cm lengths

50g (1¼ cup) bamboo shoots

Thai basil, to serve 


1. Soak the chillies in boiling water for 5 minutes, or until soft. Remove the stem and seeds, then chop. Put the chillies and the remaining curry paste ingredients in a food processor, or in a mortar with a pestle, and process or pound to a smooth paste. Add a little water if it is too thick.

2. Heat a wok over medium heat, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and 3 tablespoons of the curry paste and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the fish sauce, ground candlenuts, fish stock, whisky, lime leaves, prawns, carrot, beans and bamboo shoots. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the prawns and vegetables are cooked. Top with Thai basil and serve.