spicy tamarind shrimp curry

There is nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend. —Bob Ross

spicy indian shrimp curry | conifères & feuillusMarch is the month when most retired Canadian Gujaratis make their way back home after a winter hiatus in India, just in time to enjoy the last traces of a Canadian winter after months of basking under a torrid Indian sun. My father is one such retiree.

Our ancestral home in Gujarat is adorned with a tamarind tree in front. The tree is as old as my father himself. Although our home has gone through many restorations and transformations, the tree has remained its constant companion. It greets us each time we visit, bids us farewell when we leave. It’s the first tree that I learned to climb and has proven itself to be the best hiding spot in the numerous hide-and-seek games of my childhood. At this time of the year, when my father returns to Canada, he leaves behind the tree heavy with ripe fruit. The fruits certainly do not go to waste; the local villagers are all welcomed to help themselves to as much as they require for the year. I’m certain that no one in our village has ever had to buy tamarind.

Tamarind is the key ingredient in this shrimp recipe from my childhood. If you are not familiar with tamarind, you can read all about it here. The pods are shown below. I make my own tamarind paste but for the recipe below, you may use prepackaged, store-bought paste which is easier to find than the pods.

spicy indian shrimp curry | conifères & feuillusspicy indian shrimp curry | conifères & feuillusspicy indian shrimp curry | conifères & feuillusspicy indian shrimp curry | conifères & feuillus

Spicy Tamarind Shrimp Curry

(serves 4 to 6)

Shrimp and Marinade

Tomato Sauce

  • 700 g tomatoes, about 6 roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 150 g onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp red chili powder (use less if you don’t want it too spicy)
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste

Final Step

  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • about 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • spring onions, thinly sliced for garnishing (optional)
  1. Marinate the shrimp, let rest for at a few hours, preferably overnight, in the fridge.
  2. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a large saucepan, cover and cook on low-medium heat for 30 minutes until the onions are soft and the tomatoes lose their shape.  Using an immersion blender, purée. Alternately, you may chop the tomatoes and onions finely and omit the blending process. Set aside the sauce until you are ready to cook the shrimp.
  3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on high med-high heat. Add the fenugreek seeds and allow them to crackle. Add the shrimp, cook until they are no longer grey, turning them over as required. This will not take long, 2 minutes max. Lower the heat, cover and cook on low heat for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, increase the stove temp to high, cover and bring to a strong simmer. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as required and mix in fresh coriander.

*Along with the tamarind, using shrimp with their shells on also plays a big role in the flavour of this dish.

40 thoughts on “spicy tamarind shrimp curry

    1. Yes, for sure you may you use fresh. I soak the fresh in a bit of hot water to soften the flesh first. Adjust the amount to your liking.

  1. I’ve never known much about tamarind until reading that article you shared. Interesting to see a recipe with tamarind in it. I recently saw some in a produce store in Florida here in the US..wanted to buy some but haf no idea what to use it for! 😄

  2. Funny Annika my husbands parents too are just about to return to the UK after escaping a very cold British winter for India. I need a warm second home to escape the mild Aussie winter!

  3. What a lovely recipe Annika. I use quite a bit of tamarind since we use it a lot in indonesian cooking here in the Netherlands as well. But fresh from your own tree beats everything. ☺

  4. A lovely post. I have a giant jar of tamarind paste but have perhaps used it once. Now I have an excuse to use some. These shrimp are divine – I love all of the ingredients.

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