TONY STAPLES: Make curry in a hurry with this simple recipe

Prawn curry in a hurry
Prawn curry in a hurry

National Curry Week (October 9) is just around the corner and Tony Staples, executive head chef of the Arora Hotel, has a recipe that can be ready quicker than a takeaway delivery.

You can’t beat a really good curry and, in my book, I prefer to make my own than order a takeaway.

Tony Staples

Tony Staples

Years ago, an Indian chef told me to always make sure the onions are caramelised before adding the rest of the ingredients and this makes a huge difference to the fragrancy of the dish. Another tip is to make the sauce the day before to let the flavours develop. Ring the changes by adding extra vegetables, like broccoli, peas, a tin of lentils or chickpeas.

This recipe is so quick that you could have it on the table in 30 minutes and if you have frozen your sauce, or made it in advance, you’re looking at 10 minutes tops. That’s why I call it ‘curry in a hurry’.

Tuesday night is Curry Night at the Arora when Morgan’s Sports Bar serves curry and a pint for £13. No need to book.

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Prawn Curry in a Hurry

Serves 4

2 peeled and sliced red onions

Thumb-sized piece of root ginger, peeled, finely grated

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tab sunflower oil

1 tab softened butter

2 x star anise

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

4 cardamom pods

1 green chilli, chopped finely

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

100g coconut cream

1 heaped tab mango chutney

1kg king prawns

Juice of one whole lime


In a large frying pan or saucepan heat the oil and butter and add the onions. Cook gently until they caramelise. Add ginger, garlic and cook for a few minutes.

Crush the cardamom pods and extract the black seeds. Discard the rest. Add the seeds with the turmeric and ground coriander to the onions. Cook for a few minutes, then add the green chilli, chopped tomatoes and coconut cream. Stir in a heaped tablespoon of mango chutney and simmer for 10 minutes. For best results, leave the sauce to cool and refrigerate overnight. Or you can freeze it for another time.

To serve, heat the sauce and stir in the king prawns. Simmer until hot. Stir in the lime juice and serve with rice and a garnish of fresh peppers and tomatoes.

Chef’s tip

Make your own onion bhajis to go with this. Slice 2 red onions, mix with 4 tabs of gram flour and 1/4 tsp cumin seeds. Add a splash of milk and combine with your hands until it becomes sticky. Shallow fry handfuls until golden brown on both sides – or make one giant bhaji in the frying pan.

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