Food from Home: Shrimp Masala

Welcome to part 6 of my Food from Home series!

Catching up?

Although my family typically shopped for food at grocery stores, Bahrain’s markets have been around for years and are still very much alive and well today. Just like in North America, some villages (and I won’t call them cities because the island itself is only about the size of a city) have outdoor produce markets where you’ll find everything needed to create local dishes, as well as ingredients for many other cuisines including Indian, Thai, Lebanese, and other countries in the Gulf. There are a few places where this produce is grown in Bahrain, but I’m pretty sure the majority is imported from Saudi.

Although the produce can be interesting, the best place to really get a taste of Bahraini culture is the suq (or souk, souq, sukh, soukh – all of them refer to the same place and are pronounced like ‘soup’, but with a ‘k’ at the end). You’ll find a bit of produce there, but there’s also a ton of textiles…

and probably most impressive, and what the Bahrain suq is best known for…

GOLD! There are endless rows of vendors in the gold suq that are willing to buy jewellery that you already own but aren’t quite satisfied with, and turn it into a customized creation. They also have a lots of ready-made items to choose from, and you can find pretty much any type of earring, necklace, chain, bracelets, and ring in silver, gold, white gold, or yellow gold. Yellow gold is really common amongst the local people, and big bracelets like the ones you see here may look clunky but they’re actually very lightweight.

If you’ve got a nose plug handy, you may also like to visit the fish markets where local fisherman come and sell just about anything you’d expect to find in the sea. I don’t think my family ever purchased fish from these markets, but they were kind of cool to visit nevertheless. One of the most commonly eaten fish in the Gulf is hammour, which I’ve learned since returning to Canada is the same thing as grouper. It’s a good job I never thought to Google it at the time because had I seen what a grouper actually looks like, I might not have thought it was so delicious. (Reminds me of the time I tried monkfish, another ugly sea specimen.) There’s plenty of produce available in the grocery stores but many Bahrainis are very strongly rooted in their traditions and the fish market is one that is definitely going strong!

Spices are also a big part of Arabic cuisine, as well as Indian which we ate heaps of. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, some of the most common in Arab and Indian dishes include cumin, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, sumac, ginger, saffron, and turmeric (which gives things a bright yellow colour).

My family tended to eat a lot more Indian cuisine because that was where our house help was from and these lovely ladies cooked curry after curry for us. I really, really miss it! However, the nice thing is that some of these dishes are not that difficult to make, so today’s Food from Home recipe is an Indian one, Shrimp Masala.

Just to clarify before I get into the recipe, masala isn’t the same of an actual dish. It’s the Hindi or Urdu term for a mix of spices, and the most common that you’ve most likely heard of is garam masala. In addition to roasted spices, they also include things like dried chilies, onions, garlic, and bay leaves. Fresh is best, and you can definitely tell the difference when a fresh mixture is used because you need far less spice to get the same amount of flavour. On a side note, if you’re interested, my friend Preena makes some awesome, authentic and fresh Indian spice blends. I love the ones by her company, Arvinda’s, especially the garam masala and tikka masala. Check them out!)

Ok, recipe time!

Shrimp Masala

by Angela

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 16 mins

Keywords: stovetop saute entree soup/stew high protein low-fat low-sodium nut-free soy-free shellfish vegetables Indian


Ingredients (2 servings)

  • 225g frozen cooked shrimp, thawed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger root
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¾ cup canned diced tomatoes, with juices
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp plain fat-free yogurt
  • cilantro, to garnish


Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. After 1 minute, add the garlic, onions and ginger and stir constantly until onions begin to soften (about 3 minutes). Lower heat to medium and add the spices. Continue to stir until fragrant and onions are coated, about 2 mins.

Pour in the tomatoes and water. Cook until the mixture becomes thickened and juices are no longer clear. Lower heat and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, if you prefer, remove the tails on the shrimp prior to adding them to the mixture. Stir the shrimp into the tomatoes and cook just long enough for them to become heated throughout (2-3 mins).

Stir in the yogurt until evenly incorporated. Remove the pan from the stove and divide into two bowls. Chop the cilantro into small pieces and sprinkle on top of each bowl before serving.

Nutrition per Serving: 216 calories, 8g fat (1g saturated), 220mg cholesterol, 271mg sodium, 8g carbs, 2g fiber, 4g sugar, 26g protein.

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Be sure to taste the dish before you serve it and adjust with a little more chili powder if you prefer your meals to be spicy. I’m sure any Indian cook would probably shake their head at me for using ground chili powder in this recipe, as most would toast and grind the chilies themselves for a stronger, fresher flavour. However, I know that you, like me, are busy people! The quantities above make 2 fairly light portions, but traditionally this would be served with basmati rice or naan bread.

Alright, that’s all for this edition of Food from Home! Now tell me…

What’s your favourite Indian dish?

14 thoughts on “Food from Home: Shrimp Masala

  1. wow, i so would love to tour a marketplace! i’d be most interested in the jewellery!
    thanks for the visual tour, angela!
    i have never had indian food – i would love to try a curry, though!
    happy family day – i hope you have a great day off!

  2. It’s interesting that I haven’t eaten much Indian food..I did make a curry sauce a few weeks back and used Garam Marsala & curry and I liked the flavor but didn’t love, but I really want to explore more Indian food. Happy day off! 🙂

  3. Thank you for the mention of Arvinda’s Garam Masala. I put that in everything, even my hot chocolate! 🙂 Your Shrimp Masala looks so good, it’s a very rustic dish. Have you ever had it with some coconut milk? Fav Indian dish has to be lentils…like Masoor Dal.

    Great food from home series!

    1. Thanks Preena! Yep, I’ve tried a few versions with coconut milk (mainly the ones that we used to have made for us in Bahrain) and they are delicious too! I’ll have to try the Garam Masala in my hot chocolate next time I have a cup. It might not be for a while with this weather that we’re having but you never know! 😉

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