Swahili Shrimps in Coconut Sauce

My brother Borgar and his wife Elín own a travel company, Afríka Ævintýraferðir (Adventure trips to Africa). They live in Iceland and take tourists to Africa, mainly to countries within Eastern Africa. They have travelled all over the place, especially my brother who has travelled the world but who in the end fell in love with Africa. They are both excellent cooks and have picked up on so many things during their travels. They started using ginger in their recipes long before it was common to do so here in Iceland as well as garlic and saffron. They have picked up many recipes from Africa as well, especially Kenya and before I had the chance to visit the continent myself they often made me and my husband this dinner. And it is excellent. It is a little slice of Africa in a bowl. It's the combination of the ingredients with the seafood that really screams "Indian Ocean" and takes me back to the sunsets, fires on the beach, the mild aroma of the ocean, the stars which shine like diamonds in the deep black velvet sky"...I remember thinking "Wooowww...this is how Africa must taste like". Years later when we travelled there ourselves I wasn't disappointed. The food was always excellent, be it in a fancy sea food restaurant or a local place selling Kitheri (my favourite bean dish). Anyway...try this recipe out and try imagining the place..or better yet go and experience it yourself, absolutely recommended!

I really like this Swahili dish, it reminds me so much of Eastern Africa

This recipe is:

  • Egg free
  • Gluten free
  • Lactose (dairy) free
  • Nut free

Swahili Shrimps in Coconut Sauce

Serves 2-3


  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • A small piece fresh ginger (similar to a large grape in size), chopped finely
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • 500 grams (17½ oz) shrimps or mixed seafood
  • 150 millilitres (5¼ fluid oz) coconut milk
  • 1½ tablespoon tomato puree
  • ½ tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ tablespoon fish masala (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (Nam Plah)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (Himalaya or sea salt)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric



  1. Peel the onion and the 2 garlic cloves and chop very finely.
  2. Peel the small piece of ginger (the skin is very thin, you can scrape it off with a teaspoon or a small knife) and chop finely.
  3. Chop the 2 tomatoes coarsely.
  4. Heat 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a large frying pan.
  5. Add the 0.25 teaspoon turmeric, 0.5 tablespoon curry powder, 0.5 tablespoon fish masala (optional) and 0.5 teaspoon salt.
  6. Add the ginger, onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add a couple of tablespoons water to the pan if needed.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoons tomato puree and 1 teaspoon fish sauce. Heat for 3 minutes.
  8. Add the 150 millilitres coconut milk and heat for 3 minutes.
  9. Add the 500 grams shrimps or mixed seafood and heat for 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the shrimps.
  10. Serve with a salad, brown rice and slices of bread.


  • You can also use vegetables or even noodles instead of the seafood. The sauce itself is excellent.
  • You can use butter or olive oil instead of coconut oil.          
  • If the coconut oil is cold (in which case it becomes solid), place the jar in a bowl filled with hot water for a couple of minutes.
  • If you have leftover coconut milk, you can freeze it in an ice cube tray and use it later in soups and more.