What’s cooking today: Coconut masala prawn skewers

Tony Jackman’s coconut masala prawn skewers, basmati rice and cucumber raita, served on a platter and in matching bowls by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Plump, juicy vannamei prawns are great for grilling over hot coals. This recipe gives them a hint of coconut curry, perfect for serving with cucumber raita and basmati rice.

Prawns have a delicate flavour so should not be swamped by a lot of other elements. But apply gentle spicing and you can give them a subtle curried flavour without masking them. Below the prawn marinade recipe is one for cucumber raita.


1 tsp masala

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp crushed dried garlic

Coriander leaves, chopped, for garnish

400 ml coconut cream


White pepper


Slit the prawns carefully along the back of the tail and pull out the euphemistic “vein”. Use sharp scissors to snip away the little legs and feelers to neaten them up. Rinse under cold water and drain. I did mine heads-on but you can remove the heads if you prefer.

In a bakkie or bowl big enough to hold them all, add the coconut cream and the spices and stir to combine.

Add all the prawns, toss so that they’re all coated, and marinate in the fridge for 4 or 5 hours.

Skewer the prawns, three or four to a stick, by spiking first through the lower tail end, from the flesh side, then in again through the shell higher up. Refrigerate again if the coals aren’t ready.

Braai them over very hot coals until you can see that the flesh is white and consequently cooked. If they’re opaque they’re not ready yet. Some may be cooked sooner than others. Pour remaining baste over them as they cook.

Alternatively, pan fry them in coconut oil.

Serve with basmati rice and garnish with chopped coriander. 

Cucumber raita

1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced

1 cup full cream yoghurt

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ tsp masala

1 tsp ground cumin, toasted

Coriander leaves

Salt and white pepper


Lightly heat a pan and toast the ground cimun in it for a minute or two, just enough to pique the flavour profile a little. Stir it into the yoghurt along with the masala and chopped coriander leaves, chopped garlic, salt and white pepper. Stir in the diced cucumber. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer of the Year 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.

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Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @Tony_jackman_cooks.

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.


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