If you think Indian food is too complicated to make; then you need to try this Indian Stir Fried Shrimp in Tomato Cream Sauce (Bhagari Jhinga). Easy and delicious and such a delight to the senses!
For the vast majority of my life, forays into Indian food meant finding a mall type restaurant, meeting friends and digging in at lunch to a buffet of popular Indian foods. I have to admit; the experience and the foods were novel enough I always enjoyed the experience and I probably still would today, but not quite like I used to.
What changed? Real deal Indian food happened. I met my friend Ansh many years ago when I started a local blogging group and she attended one of our gatherings. We met once a month at my home and everyone brought something to share so we usually had a nice assortment of appetizers and desserts to enjoy.
Ansh arrived with a spicy chicken dish called Chicken 65 that she had ‘Americanized’ for our crew. For us it was the perfect blend of spicy, hot, and delicious but I’ll tell you; I’ve since had her ‘un-Americanized’ version at her house and oh boy…hot, hot, hot!! Yep, I think I’m fairly adventurous but compared to Ansh and my other Indian friends I’m still a total wuss!
But it was love and I’ve been more inclined since then to try different things at home and I can tell you, those buffets really don’t have as much appeal anymore; the foods I’ve prepared on my own are so much better!
A few months after moving into a new home in 2014 I met my neighbors Parul and Saurub, both from India. Having a friend next door who cooks primarily Indian food has brought me even more wonderful personal experiences with the real deal. Every now and then Parul will send her adorable daughter Arshiya over with a dish for me to try. One day last year it was Indian Dal Makhani and when I found it could be made in my new Instant Pot? Perfect!
I loved this dish so much that I had it every night for dinner until it was gone. And then I sobbed a bit I believe. It’s a beautiful spicy dish filled with lentils, beans, chilis, garlic and more all cooled a bit with a topping of yogurt, red onion and cilantro and altogether it is just amazing. It should come as no surprise that one day I decided I needed to do more so I asked friends for some cookbook suggestions.
They gave me some ideas, I bought a couple of books and the one I’ve really loved is Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Quick and Easy Indian Cooking’ because well, quick and easy are sure appealing.
Maybe the only thing about Indian cooking that makes it labor intensive is the search for spices. When I made the Dal; a number of the ingredients were only at local Indian markets which for me are a bit of a drive from my house. How lucky was I that my neighbor was heading that direction and put my list into her pocketbook and did the shopping for me? VERY lucky.
But…you can buy almost anything you need online if finding a local resource is difficult. For this dish the only ingredient that might not be readily available is the Garam Masala spice; you should be able to source everything else at your grocery store, even coconut milk.
The preparation is really simple; a sauce is made combining tomato paste, spices, lemon, and coconut milk and then the shrimp is quickly sauteed in oil, mustard seed, and garlic and everything is combined together. I served it with basmati rice but this would be just as wonderful on top of regular white rice. A few cilantro leaves for color and viola; it’s done and you can enjoy a dish worthy of a visit to Delhi; not just your local mall. 🙂
I have to tell you, this was a fun shoot. Because my friends know what I do and how much I love setting up a ‘scene’ for my photos, they have both brought me props after their trips home. Ansh brought me the beautiful metal bowl I’ve shown rice in for this dish and is used for the Dal in the photo above from another post.
Parul gifted me with some linens (I’ve also just recently made a chicken curry you’ll see those used in), and the black bowl and fork I’ve used for this Indian Stir Fried Shrimp in Tomato Cream Sauce. Goodwill did it’s share when I found one of my favorite pieces, the handled silver bowl in the background; yes, Made in India.
It’s such a sweet gesture on their part and one I so appreciate; once I decide to make something authentic, it’s especially meaningful if I can serve it in authentic dishes too. Probably even makes it taste a bit better, right?
This one is a true keeper. Have a craving for Indian food and want to surprise your family or guests? Do this; they will love you forever!
Stir Fried Shrimp in a Tomato Cream Sauce
For the Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 1 fresh hot green chili, finely chopped (do not remove seeds)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 small can 7 ounces coconut milk, well stirred, or 7/8 cup heavy whipping cream
For Stir-Frying the Shrimp:
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 10 to 15 fresh curry leaves optional
- 1 ¼ pounds medium-sized shrimp peeled, deveined, and washed, then patted dry. (The cleaned shrimp could be covered and kept in the refrigerator overnight, if necessary.)
To make the sauce:
- Put the tomato paste in a bowl. Add the salt, sugar, garam masala, ground roasted cumin seeds, cayenne, cilantro, green chili, lemon juice, dried curry leaves (if you are not using fresh leaves with the shrimp), and 1 tablespoon water. Mix well.
- Slowly add the coconut milk or cream, mixing as you go. Set aside. (The sauce can be made several hours ahead of time and refrigerated.)
To Stir Fry the shrimp:
- Put the oil in a wok or frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop--this takes just a few seconds--put in the garlic and fresh curry leaves, if using.
- Stir until the garlic turns medium brown and put in the shrimp. Stir until the shrimp turn opaque most of the way through. (I simply cooked mine until both sides were pink and they had curled).
- Add the sauce, turn the heat to medium, and heat the sauce through until it begins to simmer. By then, the shrimp should be completely opaque and cooked through. Turn off the heat.
- Serve over rice (I used basmati that I had cooked with the remainder of the coconut milk from a 14 oz can).
- Garnish with additional chopped cilantro if desired