Tooting Mama's Devilled Prawns Recipe

Sri Lankan devilled prawns, a family recipe

Tooting Mama says...

"The thing about any devilled dish, prawns, chicken pork – it’s about getting the balance right between the heat, the sweetness and the sourness. There’s a sweet spot that makes this recipe sing – once you hit that note, you’re going to be addicted.

I’ve tried a number of variations of this recipe, to get my deviled prawns the way my dad would make them. And, I think I may have cracked it. This is pretty much how I remember my Dad making his devilled prawns.

I really love this dish. It’s one of my all-time favourites, it’s demanding to be shared, and I’m confident you’re going to love it too"

  • Author: Tooting Mama
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 2 tbs coconut oil / vegetable oil
  • 1 large red onion sliced into half moons
  • 4 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cm of ginger peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, cut lengthways (deseeded if you want to reduce the heat)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, sliced / 1 tomato roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs Worcester sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 500g of prawns, ideally fresh with heads and legs taken off
  • Salt


  1. Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan
  2. Add the onions and start to cook them, when they soften add the garlic, ginger and chilli.
  3. Now add the dry spices with the tomatoes and quickly stir these into the onions allow the onions to cook down well but they should not burn. If you think the ingredients are looking like they’re drying out, add a splash of water.
  4. In quick succession add the vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and sugar – followed by the prawns
  5. Stir fry the prawns until they are cooked, and the onions are looking caramelised. Any liquid should be cooked down until a sticky sauce coats the prawns, add a little salt to lift the flavour.
  6. Serve hot – with rice, or simply as an appetiser.
  7. This is perfect with a bottle of Sri Lankan Lion Beer

My tips for making this authentic recipe for Sri Lankan devilled prawns

  1. The prawns
    For the best results, use fresh prawns. And if you can try and find either king prawns or tiger prawns. I’ll leave it to you to decide if you want heads and shells on or off – I guess it just depends on how messy you want to get! (Me – I’m happy getting messy with my devilled prawns!)
  2. The sauces
    I’ve tried this recipe with soy sauce on its own, with Worcestershire sauce on its own. I’ve found the best combination is to have both – I just love the cheek sucking tang it delivers. The important thing is that you have both of these sauces in your recipe.
  3. Vinegar
    Yes, another essential ingredient, again adds the necessary acidity to this dish. The vinegar unites the heat from the chillies with the sweetness of the sugar. My preference is apple cider vinegar, but red wine vinegar works well too.
  4. Sugar
    You can’t have a decent devilled dish without a little sugar. That’s all I’m going to say on the matter.
  5. Onions
    This is what makes this dish, the onions. I use red onions, and I cook them till they are dark and almost caramelised. This dish doesn’t have much in the way of sauce or gravy, it’s the onions that give the sticky quality to this dish.
  6. Tomatoes
    You will find some recipes that recommend tomato ketchup, for me, this is too sweet. I find a few cherry tomatoes hit the right level of sweet piquancy.
  7. Chilli
    Yes devilled prawn is a spicy dish, but the chilli heat shouldn’t outweigh the sweet and sourness of this dish – there’s a balance to be had. And pure heat, that’s just unpleasant. Adjust this to your taste – not keen on heat, leave out the chilli powder and deseed your chilli – that will keep the heat levels manageable.

Find this recipe and more at the Tooting Mama Food website Devilled prawns

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