Garam Masala Shrimp

IMG_0088“Love doesn’t make the world go around. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile”                       -Franklin Jones-

I say there is always room to give more love in this world. Cooking dinner is one of the ways I like to do this. So unlike the cynics who call it a Hallmark holiday or one that benefits those in the chocolate, flower or restaurant business, I embrace February 14 and take it as a day to go all out and make something for dinner I don’t typically cook.

Large, wild caught shrimp are pricey so make them your splurge. In this recipe they’re bathed in a sauce made with fresh ginger and garlic, and scented with garam masala, curry powder and coriander. Why large shrimp? They make a bigger statement on the plate and there are less of them per pound meaning fewer peels, tail and veins to remove. And definitely buy wild for their sweet flavor and firm but delicate texture.

Garam Masala is a blend of ground spices commonly used in Indian cuisine and there are as many versions as people making it. Garam is the Indian word for warm or hot. Typically it will contain some combination of ground peppercorns, dried chile, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, cardamom, fennel and bay leaf. I take the easy way out and buy it at a spice store or in the bulk section of many grocery stores. You’ll love the way it gently infuses your house with its warm smell when you are cooking with it.

Serve these warm and spicy shrimp with my favorites – over cooked brown basmati recipe and with a side of a simple pickled cucumber salad – both recipes are included. 

Garam Masala Shrimp
Serves: 4
  • 2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 lb large shrimp (16-20 per pound count) peeled, tail and vein removed
  • ½ cup plain yogurt (I prefer Greek style)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add onions, ginger and garlic and cook and stir until softened and lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add garam masala, curry powder, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper and stir to release flavors, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and water; bring to a gentle simmer (bubbles gently) and cook over low heat until reduced slightly, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp; cover and simmer over low heat just until shrimp are cooked, about 3 to 5 minutes (to check for shrimp doneness – remove one and cut in half – flesh should be opaque).
  4. Stir in yogurt and cook over low heat just until heated through. Add lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve with cooked brown basmati rice and Pickled Cucumber Salad (recipes follow).
  6. To make cooked brown basmati rice: Rinse 1 cup of brown basmati rice and put in a saucepan; stir in 2 cups of water and a large pinch of Kosher salt. Bring to a boil, stir and reduce heat to a low simmer; cover and cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Makes 3 cups of cooked rice.

Pickled Cucumber Salad
Serves: 3 cups
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped serrano pepper
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Pinch fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 English cucumber
  1. In a small saucepan or a microwave safe dish, whisk together water, vinegar and sugar; heat just until sugar dissolves, about 45 seconds. Allow cooling to room temperature, then stir in cilantro, serrano, salt and pepper.
  2. Cut cucumber in half widthwise, then cut into thin slices. Fold together cucumber slices and vinegar/sugar mixture and allow sitting 30 minutes.



Oven Seared Cod with Lemon Vinaigrette

Eat more seafood. Three simple words and one of my New Year’s resolutions that, so far, I am staying on track with. I realize we’re all more inclined to associate eating more seafood with summer when it’s easier to fire up the grill, but with the availability of cod – either True cod or Lingcod…

Read More »


Super Sunday Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas

It’s the week of the Super Bowl and if you haven’t already planned what you will be making, these Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas would be a good choice whether you’re watching or not. The recipe was inspired by one a dear friend gave me many years ago and my grown up kids know them…

Read More »


Favorite Recipes of 2014

On a recent trip to San Juan Island I spent much of the time on the ferry ride reading through my neglected pile of recipe books, newspaper food sections and food magazines. I am one of those people who tirelessly spend long chunks of time reading recipes. Reading through them confirmed what little patience I…

Read More »


Rosemary Lemon Split Roast Chicken

I’m not sure when I veered off the path of making my own roast whole chicken and instead fell into the habit of picking one up at the grocery store. It must have happened gradually while in the blur of raising kids but it was a contradiction to my personal philosophy that homemade is always…

Read More »