Food & Wine

Indian seafood appetizer enhances evening cocktails or dinner

courtesy of Gitika Baveja


For all the seafood lovers out there, this article is for you. Shrimp (also called prawns in India) can be enjoyed grilled or as a zesty snack or curry. They taste best when bought fresh and cooked the same day. Serving this shrimp appetizer with a cocktail of your choice is a great idea to start the evening.

Frozen shrimp do not taste the same, as they tend to get hard and chewy once cooked. A few good places in the Los Altos area to buy quality shrimp include Whole Foods Market, Safeway and a local fishmonger. Sometimes you can find jumbo shrimp at Costco, perfect for a weekend grill.

Some of the most delicious seafood dishes originated along the south coast of India, where shrimp, fish and other seafood are plentiful. But in this spicy shrimp recipe, a fragrant spice mix imparts a deep color and encapsulates the rich flavors of Northern Indian cuisine. I also suggest a quick substitution to lend it a Southern Indian taste.


Spicy shrimp

1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and washed

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon dry mango powder (amchoor)

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder or red chili flakes

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon garlic, freshly ground

1 tablespoon lemon juice (to marinate shrimp)

1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 green chili, finely chopped (for extra heat)

4-5 tablespoons rice flour (to lightly coat shrimp)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil to shal- low-fry

Juice of 1/2 a lemon (for garnish – optional)


Coat shrimp with dry spices, garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, chopped green chili and sprinkle of water. Mix well. Set aside for half an hour.

Coat shrimp in rice flour just before frying.

Heat oil. Reduce heat, shallow-fry shrimp in small batches until done (approximately 2-3 minutes) and serve with cooling green cilantro chutney.

For a taste of Southern India, use a few fresh, chopped curry leaves, 2 dry red whole chilis and 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds. When oil is hot, add mustard seeds and let splutter until they start to turn gray. Add whole dry red chili and curry leaves. This will sizzle, so keep a safe distance from stove. Add marinated shrimp and shallow-fry until done. (You can omit coating shrimps in rice flour.) Add fresh chopped green chili for extra heat only if you like it spicy.

Squeeze lemon juice over shrimp before serving. This dish makes a perfect appetizer or can be served as an accompaniment to a meal.

Gitika Baveja is author of “Indian Flavors to Savor: The Easy Home-Cooked Way” For more information, visit

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