Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kerala Chemmeen Theeyal(Varutharacha Chemmeen Curry) - Shrimp in Roasted Coconut Gravy

Ingredients: -
  1. Shrimp/Prawns – 1 lbs
  2. Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  3. Chilly powder – 1 tsp
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Shallots/Small Onion/Kunjully finely sliced ~ 1 ½ cups
  6. Tomato finely sliced – 1
  7. Ginger minced – 1tsp
  8. Green chilies – 4 split into halves
  9. Tamarind a small gooseberry size ball(you can use tamarind paste as well) or use Gamboge
  10. Water - 1 cup(or more as needed)

To Grind

1.       Grated Coconut ~ 1 ½ cups
2.       Coriander powder – 3 tbsp(I used pre-roasted then grounded coriander powder that was homemade)
3.       Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
4.       Dry red chilies – 3
5.       Curry leaves few

For Seasoning:
  1. Coconut Oil/ Veg Oil – 2 tbsp
  2.  Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  3. Curry leaves few
  4. Shallots/Kunjulli/Small onion chopped – 3 tbsp
  5. Dry red chilies – 3
Preparation Method:-

  •  Peel the shell off the shrimp, devein, wash and clean them.  Marinate with turmeric powder, chilly powder and salt and set aside for an hour if possible
  • Soak the tamarind in ½ cup water for ten minutes. Squeeze out the maximum tamarind water with clean hands and pour into a bowl. Add half cup water again and squeeze out the remaining pulp water from tamarind if any and pour to the set aside tamarind water.
  • Dry roast the coconut with fenugreek seeds, curry leaves and dry red chilies in medium heat. When the coconut start to turn brown add the coriander powder and roast again for three-five minutes or till they become brown color.(Don’t over roast the coconut-coriander powder to very dark brown/burn which will turn the gravy to bitter, the curry will lose its authentic taste- I roast it till they turn a bit more than light brown but not very dark brown)
  • Let the roasted mix cool down fully. Then grind them to a smooth paste(Use ¼- ½ cup water as needed to  grind). Move the ground paste to bowl and add ½ cup or more water and mix well(water should be added according to your gravy requirement, this curry is normally of medium consistency-neither too thick nor runny)
  • Put the marinated shrimp, finely sliced shallots, ginger, green chilies, few curry leaves and tamarind extract to a pan preferably Manchatty/Earthen ware. Keep the Manchatti/Pan with lid on and put on the stove. When the shrimp-tamarind mix just starts to boil add the sliced tomatoes and ground coconut mix.
  • When the gravy start to boil simmer the stove to medium and let it cook again for few more minutes say five-seven minutes. Take out off the stove.
  • Heat up a small pan, pour coconut oil/Veg oil, when the oil is hot enough add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds starts to splutter, add curry leaves, dry red chilies, shallots/Kunjully/Small onion and sauté till they turn golden brown.
  • Pour over the curry and serve warm with Rice/Roti/Appam/Dosa. This curry tastes better after 4-6 hours of preparation. 

  1. Even though this curry is commonly known as Chemmeen Theeyal, We (Kannur region) simply call it as Varutharacha Chemmeen Curry i.e. Shrimp in dry roasted coconut gravy :-)
  2. Shallot/Small onion/Kunjully is preferred for this curry, but you can replace it with very finely sliced Onion. The way you slice them definitely adds taste to gravy.
  3. Many parts of Kerala use Gamboge/Kudampuli to make this and most of the fish Curries, but Malabar/North Keralites mostly use Tamarind. Would suggest you to use which ever suits your taste buds(i.e. whichever you are used to-like I have seen some people using tamarind having hard time to adjust with Kudampuli/Gamboge taste but I never heard vice versa – so it all depends upon your taste buds :-) )
  4. I have used pre-roasted ground coriander powder, so frying time with coconut will be less. If you are using store bought or unroasted coriander powder then frying time till they turn brown will be little more.
  5. Seasoning is purely optional, this curry tastes great even without seasoning.
Sending this to The Kerala Kitchen Event hosted by Roshan @ Roshan's Cuccina 


  1. Very delicious n simply tempting..I too love shrimp a lot,I think the same goes with you too,many prawn recipes..This one is adipoli,choodu chorum theeyalum ..perfect one!!
    Erivum Puliyum

  2. Theeyal looks awesome. I have weakness towards theeyal.

  3. Tempting theeyal ..i am a shrimp lover..will make it..

  4. Wow delicious,makes me drool..adipoli theeyal

  5. i make this spicy tangy curry without prawns...looks inviting!!
    nice clicks!!
    Spicy Treats
    OnGoing Event:Show Me Your HITS~Healthy Delights

  6. hi prathiba, this shrimp dish will be one my favorite.. cant wait to try.. i like the roasted coconut, must be very aromatic and flavorful. bookmarked with thanks. have a nice day dear

  7. This curry sounds like an elaborate procedure but sure looks mouth watering. Will try it sometime.
    Like your space and following you. Oh and i am in awe of your creativity with the three tier cake and wedding anniversary cake.

  8. LOVE THESE KIND OF DISHES...n that too with shrimp...drooling here! :)

  9. Delicious curry with wonderful clicks.

  10. this curry looks so yummy and spicy! wish I could have a bowl right now.

  11. Delicious nspicy Curry Dear with yum yum clicks

  12. superb chemeen theeyal...had tasted this at a friends house..looks so delicious :)

    Join the Just "4" Fun event :)

  13. looks so delicious & mouthwatering!!I always find similar dishes in Kerala & Sri Lanka.Even we have a method of cooking fish,and mainly with Gamboge and we call it 'Fish Ambul Thiyal'...
    I will try this way next time when I cook prawns...

  14. Pratibha, this looks divine! I would really love to try the recipe!

  15. Theeyal looks too tempting,lov the color ...

  16. I love you for posting this recipe... my fave..!!

  17. delicious shrimp curry and flavour looks wonderful

  18. wow...the shrimp curry looks absolutely yum....i too hav posted a malvani shrimp check it out :-)

  19. i havent tried prawns in varutharacha style..nice recipe..should try this soon

  20. You have an award at my space..Please come & grab,dear!!
    Erivum Puliyum

  21. wow..superb!!!....kurachu chooorum koode undengil kushaalaayi...:)

  22. Looks delicious and the curry color superb:)


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