Masala Shrimp

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.

A person squeezing a lime wedge over a plate of masala shrimp.

Part of the beauty of this versatile and exquisitely spiced recipe is it easily serves as a quick impromptu appetizer for whenever the need arises. The rest of the beauty lies in the fact that it’s so lovely, you’re not going to want to stop at an appetizer portion so it doubles as a done-in-15-minutes supper.–Renee Schettler

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.

Masala Shrimp

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 15 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a meal
5/5 - 1 reviews
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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.

Tester tip: If need be, you can let the shrimp rest in the marinade for a little longer, but not much. If they sit in the acid too long they’ll turn rubbery.

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.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

"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.

A white plate with masala shrimp, white rice, and steamed broccolini on a blue placemat.


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  1. Be prepared to get gloriously messy and covered in deliciously drippy Indian spices. This simple recipe takes a few ingredients, a little prep yet packs a wallop of flavor. Being a Southern girl my immediate thought, as sauce was dribbling down down my chin, was this would make a fine plate of shrimp and grits. Next time!

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