David Scott AllenFish & SeafoodMain CourseProvencal RecipesTaste

Elegant Saffron Shrimp Curry with Coconut Our New Comfort Food

When you think of Provencal food it’s true that curry dishes are not what rush to mind. However, the population base and contemporary tastes are changing with the times. Recently, Ashley Tinker of Curious Provence shared her source for “exotic” spices in Marseille (here).

We decided to make shrimp curry with saffron and coconut for Easter, straying far from more traditional, and a bit boring, lamb dishes. Many of the ingredients (turmeric, cumin seed mustard seeds) are easily found in most grocery stores in Provence. Make certain to buy your saffron from a reputable source. Although still an expensive spice, saffron is grown and harvested in the region.

Saffron Harvest Provence Tastes Provence @PerfProvence

More Recipes with Saffron

Cauliflower Saffron Soup a creamy soup is easy to make as a savoury starter dish.

Slightly decadent… langoustine ragoût with fennel and saffron is served on little boxes of puff pastry.

Colourful and delicious, poached sea bass in a delicious shrimp and saffron broth.

From the oven at Mirabeau Wine a saffron chicken with potato and courgette.

Mussels cream soup with saffron and leeks a warm soup by Cook’n with Class.

Coconut Saffron Shrimp Curry

Shrimp Curry with Saffron and Coconut

The following was minimally adapted from the recipe by chef Vikram Vij. This curry is full of flavour but mild when it comes to heat. Once you start cooking, you can have the savoury saffron shrimp on the table in under 30-minutes.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 35 minutes
Course Main Dish
Servings 4 people


  • 1 teaspoon Saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 28 large Prawns peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Salt divided
  • 1/2 cup Canola Oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsps cumin seeds
  • 3 cups Puréed Fresh Tomatoes see note
  • 2 tbsps Brown Mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp Ground Fenugreek Seed
  • 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 cups coconut milk full fat, stirred
  • Basmati rice for serving


  • Place the saffron in a small bowl and pour in the lukewarm water. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  • Place shrimp in a non-reactive bowl and add 1 teaspoon of the salt. Using your hands, massage the salt into the shrimp. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  • Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Stir in the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for 30 seconds.
  • Turn the heat to medium, then add the tomatoes, mustard seeds, ground fenugreek, pepper flakes, turmeric, and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes, or until the oil glistens on the tomatoes.
  • Add the 2 cups water, stir well, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the curry another 10 minutes, stirring often.
  • Stir in the coconut milk, saffron, and the saffron soaking water, and cook another 10 minutes. (The curry can be made to this point in advance and brought back to a boil just before serving.)
  • With the curry boiling over medium heat, add the shrimp in a single layer but do not stir them. Allow them to cook undisturbed for 1 minute.
  • Then stir gently and toss, coating with the sauce. Let cook another 4 minutes, or until shrimp are done.
  • Serve with basmati rice.


Note: I used two tomatoes to get 3 cups purée but they were big tomatoes! I cut them in half and squeezed as many of the seeds out as I could, then puréed them in the blender.
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David Scott Allen

David Scott Allen

David Scott Allen is the author, photographer, and cook behind Cocoa & Lavender, a weekly food blog based in Tucson, Arizona. Passionate about travel, he especially enjoys eating traditional foods and learning local customs, whether in the United States or around the globe.

David's first trip to France took place when he was 14, and he returned as often as possible thereafter. However, it wasn't until his 50th birthday that he finally made it south to Provence. The beauty, history, charm, warmth, cuisine, and - of course - the rosé wines captured his heart. He shares his Provençal recipes here on Perfectly Provence, and his food and wine pairings monthly on the Provence WineZine.

David is a firm believer that sharing a meal with friends around the table is one of life's greatest pleasures. And if it happens to be in Provence, all the better!

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