These masala shrimp are briefly marinated in a mixture of ginger, garlic, tomato paste, lime juice, and spices and then pan-seared. Start to finish, just 15 minutes. But the taste would never belie that. Equally adept at being an appetizer or quick weeknight meal.
What does “masala” mean?
“Masala” refers to any mingling of spices used in Indian cooking. It can be used as a generic term for any spices, such as “chicken masala,” or it can take on a more specific meaning, such as when referring to garam masala, which is a particular blend of warming spices. So basically, when you see “masala,” know to expect some sort of lovely Indian influence in terms of spices.
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 20 M
- Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a meal
Place the shrimp in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Pat them dry with paper towels.
In a large bowl or resealable plastic bag, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil and the garlic, ginger, tomato paste, lime juice, garam masala, cayenne, and cinnamon. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired.
Add the shrimp, season with salt, and coat evenly. Let sit for 5 minutes.
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the shrimp along with the spice mixture and liquid and cook, stirring and turning occasionally, until they turn pink, 3 to 4 minutes. (The tomato paste and shrimp might make it tricky to determine the pink color, so to test for doneness, cut a piece of the shrimp in half; the flesh inside should be completely tender and white in addition to the outer surface and tail turning pink.)
Transfer the shrimp to a platter. Garnish with the chives. Serve immediately with the lime wedges on the side.
Recipe Testers' Tips
"Yum!" Thats always a good sound to hear from one’s better half when sharing a meal. As a riff on an Indian meal, where flavors usually take quite a while to meld, this is a very simple meal to pull together quickly and easily.
I made the sauce a few hours ahead of time and let it meld in the fridge. We like ginger, as it’s a bit spicy and has just a hint of sweet too. I'm a rogue, so I used a half pound of 13- to 15-count shrimp (larger shrimp are certainly easier to peel) and a half pound of large scallops for this recipe.
As we all have different acceptable levels of spice heat, this may be spicier for some, so adjust the cayenne accordingly. I used 1/4 tsp for my recipe as we don't like too much spice, and that was spicy enough for us.
I keep 1- to 1/1/2-inch chunks of ginger root in the freezer so I always have some fresh at hand. The skin also comes off much easier after being frozen simply by using the edge of a spoon to peel it.
I served these over Tarka Dal as a meal. A cucumber raita or even a garlicky tzatziki would make a nice accompaniment as a cooling sauce served as an appetizer.
This is a new weeknight dinner to be excited about. Easy, quick, and great flavor! This doesn’t take a lot of advance planning and you don’t have to purchase a lot of ingredients. This marinade has just enough flavor and spice without overwhelming the delicate flavor of the shrimp and serving with rice helps to sop up more of the marinade.
I found that using a bag to marinade made things easier since the marinade was slightly chunky and really clung to the shrimp.
Serve with rice and double the portion and you can easily make this into an entrée rather than an appetizer.
If you’re running late with getting dinner on the table or having a few friends swing by last minute, pull out some shrimp from the freezer and make this IMMEDIATELY. The final result tastes like you put a ton of time and effort into it, but it couldn’t be more simple or straightforward.
What this recipe truly delivers on is its namesake ingredient. Every bite of the shrimp was perfectly accented with the garam masala’s signature notes, especially the aromatic coriander and cardamom. The warm cinnamon, punchy ginger, and zesty lime mixed in were excellent accompaniments that added additional depth and complexity. The heat from the cayenne was also just enough to leave a tingling sensation on your lips and tongue, but it wasn’t leaving you dashing for a glass of water to cool you off.
The only suggestion I’d make to this recipe is flipping your shrimp along with stirring it to get a little of the marinade caramelized evenly on both sides. Otherwise, what a dreamy dish!
Having never liked shrimp as a kid, I've been making up for it in my adult years with an Eleanor Shellstrop-level of enthusiasm and was delighted with this dish. Shrimp + Indian flavors + under 20 minutes = what's not to love??? Sure, it's meant to serve four, but that didn't stop three of us from finishing these off with samosas and drinks.
I used frozen raw shrimp that I thawed in a colander under running water, and had no problems. I’d recommend checking seasoning BEFORE adding the raw seafood, and the next time I make these I’ll increase the garam masala and salt just a smidge. I'll also make sure my pan is screaming hot to get more of a sear and to reduce the sauce a little more.
A warning needs to be attached to this recipe. *This is not for the faint of heart. It is quite spicy.* However, that being said, this was delicious and full of flavor. This was a very easy recipe to throw together—so much so that it was a weekday lunch at our house.
Perhaps a range of cayenne could be noted, to warn folks who are drawn to the flavors and seasonings used but don’t want quite so much cayenne, which is where the heat comes from.
We ate this with naan bread the first day, and then as a quesadilla the next day. For us, this could feed 4 as an appetizer.
We loved this deceptively simple recipe. I was skeptical that such a short marinating time could produce enough depth of flavor but it really packed a flavour punch! We will make this dish again and again.