Shrimp Masala

South Indian shrimp masala, shrimp gravy

This is one of those recipes that you will keep craving for once you have had it. This shrimp masala has an amazing combination of flavors and is a keeper!

Growing up in a South Indian family, shrimp was not popularly cooked in homes. I don’t clearly remember but I think my mom, who is an amazing cook, did cook it once. But it was something that was to be enjoyed when we traveled or at restaurants.

This shrimp masala recipe has a long list of ingredients but need little prep. Prep takes about just 20 minutes. This recipes calls for ginger garlic paste and curry leaves. Both of them can be found in any Indian store. I make my ginger garlic paste at home by grinding equal amounts of ginger and garlic with some oil (for preservation) and store it in the freezer. You can also substitute it with equal amounts of ginger paste and garlic paste if you find it separately in stores.

Simmering before the shrimp is added

If you don’t have curry leaves, here are some substitutions I found on SPICEography: lime zest, bay leaves, lime leaves and lemon balm. The flavors really come out to play in this recipe with the spices used.

If you don’t find garam masala, you can substitute it with curry powder. This gravy is on the spicier side. You can skip the cayenne pepper to reduce the heat and it would still taste amazing.

I have actually gotten into the practice of cooking double the amount required for one meal and storing the leftovers in the fridge. This shrimp masala tastes even better the next day. I also sneak some into the freezer to eat on one of those days when you don’t want to cook but still crave for a certain home cooked dish.

This shrimp masala is adapted from Yummy Tummy

I would love to know your thoughts on this recipe. Please share them on the comments section below.

Another recipe you might like is this oven roasted curried cauliflower.

Shrimp masala

Enjoy this Shrimp masala with a bowl of steamed rice, roti, chapathi or naan
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 5


Shrimp marination

  • 350 grams Shrimp small, frozen, uncooked, tail off and deveined
  • 2 teaspoons Ginger garlic paste
  • 2 teaspoons Chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons Ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon Ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Garam masala powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground black pepper


  • 3 tablespoons Canola oil might need a few more teaspoons while cooking
  • 2 inches Cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon Fennel seeds
  • 1 cup Red onion chopped
  • 1 Cayenne pepper slit lengthwise (skip to lower spice level)
  • 24 Curry leaves small*
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger garlic paste
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons Ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Garam masala
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Tomatoes chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 3/4 cup Water


  • Marinate the shrimp with the ingredients listed under marination and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Chop the onions and tomatoes while the shrimp is marinating. Slit the cayenne pepper if using.
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the marinated shrimp. Toss the shrimp and cook for about 4-6 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked. Shrimp turns pink and starts to curl when cooked.
  • Turn off the stove and transfer the shrimp to a plate leaving the marinade and oil in the pan. We will be using the same pan to finish cooking the masala.
  • If there is not enough oil to cook the masala add a few teaspoons of oil.
  • Heat the oil over medium high heat and add the cinnamon and fennel seeds. Cook until fragrant.
  • Then add the chopped onions, curry leaves and cayenne pepper if using. Saute until the onions are soft.
  • Now add in the ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute or until you don't smell the rawness.
  • Turn the heat to low, add in all the spice powders and mix well.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and bring the heat to medium again. Saute until the tomatoes turn mushy. When the tomatoes are cooking, add in the salt. The salt helps the tomatoes break down faster.
  • Once the tomatoes have turned mushy, add water and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Now add the shrimp and toss it in the gravy. Let it cook for another 5 minutes in medium heat and turn off the stove top.
  • Serve warm with steamed rice, chapathi or naan


Curry leaves substitutes:
  1. Zest of 1 small lime for 8 curry leaves
  2. 1 bay leaf for 1/2 cup of curry leaves
  3. 6 lime leaves for 10 curry leaves
  4. 1/3rd less lemon balm than the required curry leaves

Leave a Reply