Durban Curry Shrimp

Durban Curry shrimp is a spicy South African style curry. Made at home from scratch with fresh chillies, tomato, garlic, ginger, curry leaves, lime zest and spices this easy to make whole food curry is hot, fresh and delicious!

a bowl of durban curry shrimp on cauliflower rice

Curry has always been one of my greatest food love affairs. Whether it’s Thai style like Thai Red Curry Tofu or Indian style, I haven’t met a curry I didn’t like.

When I travelled to South Africa, I was surprised to learn that curry was such a big deal there and I took every chance I got to eat curry in Durban.  What I really loved about the curry there was that it seemed like it was the best of both worlds – the richness of an Indian curry along with the fresh fragrant citrus notes of South East Asian curries.

This Durban curry shrimp is a recipe that I created with the flavours of South African Curry in mind. You start by making your own homemade curry paste from tomatoes, onions and spices, then you finish the curry off with lime zest and coconut milk before adding the shrimp.  From start to finish this dish took just over half an hour to make

Spicy, fragrant, fresh and flavourful this curry has truly got everything going for it.

There are some ingredients on the list that you might not find at your local supermarket but should be able to find in an Asian or Specialty supermarket.  Aside from the new ingredients it may seem a bit daunting to essentially be making your own curry paste from scratch, but let me tell you this is MUCH easier than it may sound and the flavour that you get from starting with your own fresh ingredients is incomparable to any curry paste you can find at the store.

How to make Durban curry shrimp

Start by making sure that you have all your spices ready and that you have prepped your onions and tomatoes.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the fenugreek, mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the pan.  Toast the seeds in the dry pan for a minute or two before adding the oil, onion, garlic, ginger and curry leaves.

Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the onions until they begin to turn translucent – about 10 minutes – then add the diced tomato, lime zest, coriander, turmeric, and sliced chilli.

curry paste cooking in a skillet

Cook the mixture until the tomatoes have completely softened and most of their moisture has been evaporated leaving behind a thick tomatoey paste then add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.

cooked durban curry paste and the sauce after adding coconut milk

Add the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes or until the shrimp have just turned pink.

Season with sea salt, and lime juice and serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro.


a skillet of freshly cooked Durban curry shrimp

Tips and Tricks

  • I like chopping stuff so I find the dicing of the tomatoes and onions to be meditative work, but to speed up this aspect of the prep go ahead and give these both a rough chop in your food processor.
  • Using the full 4 chillies makes this curry pretty spicy!!  This is a hallmark of South African curries but start with 2 if you are unsure of how spicy you want it and if you know that you want it pretty mild also remove the seeds before adding the chopped chillies to the skillet.
  • If you can’t find curry leaves lime leaves are a good substitute but if you can’t find either you can also just omit.


a bowl of durban curry shrimp

Dietary Considerations and Accommodations

This recipe for Durban curry shrimp is suitable for the following diets:

  • pescatarian
  • clean eating and Whole30
  • gluten free, dairy free, and allergy friendly
  • low carb and keto friendly with served with cauliflower rice (as I did)
  • For vegetarian or vegan leave out the shrimp and throw in some cubed tofu instead!


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a bowl of durban curry shrimp on cauliflower rice
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5 from 5 votes

Durban Curry Shrimp

A spicy tomato and coconut milk based South African style shrimp curry
Course Main Course
Cuisine South African
Keyword Durban Curry Shrimp
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 268kcal
Author Courtney


  • 1 tbsp avocado oil (or other cooking oil)
  • 1⁄4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 3⁄4 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1⁄4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 inch ginger chopped
  • 10 curry leaves (or lime leaves, or omit)
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1 lime zest and juice of zest and juice of
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 red chillies chopped
  • 4 tomatoes chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • sea salt
  • 454 g shrimp ((16-20)
  • cilantro


  • Heat a large skillet to medium heat and throw in the cumin, mustard and fenugreek seeds then toast until you can smell them in the air.
  • Add the avocado oil to the skillet along with the crushed garlic, chopped ginger, curry leaves and onion.
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the onion has cooked and turned transluscent.
  • Add the lime zest, coriander, turmeric, sliced chili and the chopped tomatoes.
  • Cook down until the tomatoes have completely softened and the mixture resembles a paste.
  • Add the coconut milk, mix well and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes or until the shrimp have just turned pink.
  • Season with sea salt, and lime juice and serve sprinkled chopped cilantro,


** As written this is a VERY spicy curry!  Feel free to half the red chillies used to make it a bit milder, or to REALLY make it mild also remove the seeds from the chillies before using.

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