Rose’s Prawn Sambal

It is getting chilly in Canberra and I have been making a lot of curry. I thought you might like a meaty curry in amongst the vego options and so I asked my aunt to lend a hand. She photographed and documented what I have been assured is a delicious prawn sambal.

Sambal has its origins in Malaysia and Indonesia, but variations are made throughout Asia, including India. Rose’s prawn sambal come from the Sinhg family who run the Jasmin Indian Restaurant in Adelaide.

Sambal is a sauce typically made from chilli, garlic, ginger and tomato. The recipe Rose used included these ingredients as well as onion, crushed tomatoes, lemon zest, vinegar, coriander, basil and prawns.

1 ingredientsStart by making a paste from the ginger (a piece about the size of a table tennis ball), garlic (12 cloves) and ½ cup of vinegar. The easiest way to do this is to blend together in an electric blender or liquidiser. Rose’s speed it up tip – use garlic and ginger paste from a jar rather than making your own.

2 garlic and gingerFry the garlic and ginger paste in a wok, then add the onion and fry until soft and cooked, but not brown.3 fry

Next, reduce the heat and add the tomatoes. Stir occasionally until the mixture reduces to the consistency of a sauce. It is important to use really ripe tomatoes in this dish in order to get the richness of flavour and colour required.

It is not tomato season in Adelaide and Rose was unable to find tomatoes that were ripe enough. Consequently she was unhappy with the colour and decided to add a tin of crushed tomatoes.

Once the sauce is reduced and rich add the coriander, basil, lemon zest and chilli for about 3 minutes. Lastly add the prawns, turn up the heat and stir until the prawns are cooked  (white).

Rose said she was tempted to buy the prawns without the shells because it is easier. But she opted not to because they lack the flavour. Plus, the prawn shells can be used to make stock.

5 add prawns Outcome: The flavour was fantastic – a meal to impress guests

6 finished


  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 1 knob ginger (approx. size table tennis ball)
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 2 large onions finely sliced
  • 5 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder (use less if you don’t like spicy food)
  • Lemon rind
  • 1/2 bunch chopped coriander
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 12 large green prawns, cleaned and de-veined.

Equipment: blender, chopping board, knife, wok


  1. Mince ginger, garlic and vinegar in a blender, then fry in the wok
  2. Add the sliced onion to the wok and fry
  3. Reduce the heat and add the fresh and tinned tomatoes to the wok
  4. Add other ingredients, except prawns, and simmer for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the prawns and cook until white
  6. Serve with rice

Notes from Rose:

  • To speed things up you could use crushed ginger and garlic from a jar for the paste, instead of making your own.
  • The sauce quantities could be halved, there was plenty left over (which Rose informs she will use on Punjabi Lamb chops).
  • If you cannot get overripe fresh tomatoes, or if you want to speed things up, you can use good quality tinned tomatoes.


Want more curry dishes? Pumpkin Dahl; Malai Curry

Want more meaty dishes? Sausage Rolls; Smoked Chicken Pizza; Ham & Kale Pizza







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