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Ambat Shrimp Curry Recipe
In Konkani cuisine, the “sour” taste or flavor is a true favorite & can be found in many dishes. Now when I mean “sour”, I mean sour in a good way such as the sourness found in yogurt, lemon, tamarind or kokum. When you add a souring agent (such as the ones just previously mentioned) to a dish, it enhances & also balances out the other flavors in a unique way.
So “ambat” dishes are a traditional Konkani favorite & my family absolutely loves them. In Konkani (and also Marathi) -- “ambat” translates into sour. Now personally, I don’t think of these dishes as sour but rather as more tangy & very flavorful. Best of all, they are usually super simple to make & can be prepared in a snap! That being said, my Ambat Shrimp is a lovely & delicious dish that personifies all of these wonderful flavors. This recipe can also be made using your favorite variety of fish, simply cut the fish filets into manageable size pieces.
Many of you may be unfamiliar with fenugreek, but it is quite common in Indian cooking. Fenugreek is used as both an herb (fresh fenugreek leaves) and also as a spice (fenugreek seeds). The leaves have a wonderful and unique flavor. Known as “methi” in India, these small leaves have a very slight bitter flavor and a fragrant aroma. The seeds are used in the preparation of Indian pickles, spice mixtures (masalas) and curry pastes. Fenugreek seeds are also known to aid in the digestion process. Fresh fenugreek or methi leaves are available in most Indian grocery stores. They are also available in a dried form (known as Kasuri methi) and can also be found in the frozen section. This particular recipe uses fenugreek seeds as a spice.
AMBAT SHRIMP CURRY (Konkani Style Sour Shrimp Curry)
1 lb of medium shrimp (peeled, deveined & tail-on)
1 tbsp raw rice grains
1 tbsp urad dal (skinned & split)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
1 heaping tbsp freshly grated coconut
½ tsp black mustard seeds
4-5 fresh curry leaves
pinch of asafetida (hing)
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds (coarsely ground)
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp oil (coconut, vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
In a small dry skillet, toast the rice grains along with the urad dal & fenugreek seeds until lightly brown and fragrant. Then remove from the pan, allow too cool slightly and grind into a fine paste along with the fresh coconut. You can add a little water as needed to help with the blending process. Set aside until needed.
Now in a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, carefully add the black mustard seeds. When the splattering slows, add the curry leaves, asafetida & fenugreek seeds. Stir-fry for just a minute or two and then add in the shrimp. Next, add the turmeric along with the red chili powder, salt & about ¼ cup or so water. Mix well to combine, cover & let cook on low for about 3-4 minutes.
Now add about 1-1½ tbsp of the freshly ground coconut paste & stir gently to combine all of the ingredients together. Then cover again & let cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the shrimp are opaque & fully tender. Garnish with the freshly chopped cilantro leaves & serve with fresh chapatis and fragrant Basmati rice.
Feel free to add some coarsely ground peanuts to the dish along with the coconut paste for a lovely nutty flavor.
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