Parsnip, plantain, aubergine and prawn curry

Rate this recipe


Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Vegetables: The new food heroes


By Peter Gordon

Published 2007

  • About

By making the stock from the prawn shells, you add a delicious extra layer of flavour. If you’re vegetarian, simply omit the prawns and use vegetable stock, and perhaps some shiitake mushrooms. If you can’t find whole raw prawns, and you have to add ready-cooked prawns, then make the curry with a good fish or vegetable stock. Serve it with steamed rice or egg noodles. Make sure you use a ripe plantain – it will look like a large rotten banana but will taste great. If the skin isn’t beginning to blacken, it won’t be ripe enough; in which case, you will need to boil the peeled slices for 5–10 minutes in sweetened water until they’re just beginning to soften, then drain them and add to the curry as in the recipe.


  • 12 whole raw prawns in their shells
  • tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 thumb of ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 green cardamom pods, squashed a little
  • 2 star anise
  • pinch of saffron or ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 green chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 2 strips of lemon zest (just the yellow layer, not bitter white pith)
  • 1 aubergine, stem removed and cut into large chunks
  • 1 ripe plantain, peeled and sliced into 1cm discs
  • large handful of mint leaves, shredded, but not too thinly
  • small handful of parsley leaves, roughly chopped


Remove the heads and shells from the prawns, keeping the tail shell on if you like – I do. Heat a saucepan and add a tablespoon of the oil, then add the prawn shells, ginger and 2 of the garlic cloves, and fry over a high heat, stirring all the time until the shells turn red. Add 700 ml cold water and a teaspoon of salt, and bring to the boil. Then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes.

Heat a wide pan and add the remaining oil, the onion and the spices. Fry over a moderate heat until the onion colours, then add the remaining garlic, chilli, parsnip and the lemon zest, and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add 300ml water and bring to the boil, then mix in the aubergine and plantain, and strain the prawn stock over the vegetables. Bring to the boil, then cook at a rapid simmer until the parsnip is cooked (the plantain should be ready at the same time).

Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Then add the prawns to the curry and cook for around 2 minutes, when they should just be done. Mix in the mint and parsley and it’s ready to serve.