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50 Great Curries of India
by Camellia Panjabi

Shrimp Patia (Dahanu, near Mumbai)
The Parsees fled Persia about 1,300 years ago and settled on the coast of Gujarat in India. Others, who in recent centuries gradually arrived from Persia, formed a small but distinct community in Bombay and Dahanu, just to the north, where they are known as Iranis and cultivate fruit orchards of mangoes, chicoos (sapotas), and lychees. This patia recipe is an Irani one from Dahanu. The Parsees also have a version of patia.
     A patia is a curry with sweet, hot, and sour flavors equally balanced. Both Parsees and Iranis serve the patia on auspicious family occasions, along with yellow rice and lentils, calling it by its traditional name—dhan, dar, or patio. The Irani patia is slightly spicier and hotter than the Parsee one. There are many chiles in this recipe but the heat is offset by the sour tamarind and the sugar. It is traditionally served with yellow rice.
Serves 2


    • 1 lb shelled, uncooked shrimp
    • 1½ teaspoons tamarind pulp
    • 5 green chiles, chopped
    • 3 plump cloves garlic
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 1/4 cup oil
    • 2 large onions, finely chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon coriander powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon red chile powder
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon jaggery
    • 10 curry leaves
    • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
    • salt


1. If using fresh shrimp, wash and remove the veins.

2. Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup of warm water for at least 30 minutes.

3. Grind the green chiles, 2 of the garlic cloves, and the cumin seeds to a paste.

4. Heat the oil in a cooking pot and fry the onions until deep pink. Add the ground paste and fry for 2 minutes, stirring well.

5. Add the cumin, coriander, red chile, garam masala, and turmeric powders. Stir constantly for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring from time to time.

6. Add half the tamarind water, the jaggery, curry and cilantro leaves, and about 1½ teaspoons salt. Taste and adjust the sour, sweet, and salt flavors to your liking. Add 3/4 cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for as long as necessary, remembering that shrimp cook very quickly. This dish has a thick, non-runny gravy, and in. India it is always served with a moong dal.

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