Zucchini & Shrimp Tamarind Rice

This tangy rice dish combined with sweet in-seaon zucchini succulent shrimp is a beautiful choice for summer dinners. You can grind and store the spice powder (podi) ahead and with some leftover rice, it is quick to make and makes for a delicious light summery meal. Pair with papads(lentil crackers) or fried potato sticks (I have a recipe here) for a rounded meal.

South indian cuisine has quite a lot of flavored rice recipes made with dry powdered spices, curry leaves and a sour agent (tamarind or tomato or lemon). Tamarind rice is a popular recipe and it has a few variations. Some recipes mix the cooked rice with tamarind paste and stir fry (I make this version), the other recipes cook the rice in tamarind and spices flavored water.

Tamarind rice is a beautiful combination of rice flavored with fresh ground spices. I add fleshy sweet zucchini and shrimp to make it a meal perfect for summer dinners. This recipe is an inspiration from traditional south indian tamarind rice. While its not authentic, my family loves it.

If you do not want to use tamarind, use lemon juice or tomato puree instead. It all works great if the spice powder is done right. This is a good recipe for summer evenings when we all need a quick and satisfying meal. The best thing is that these rice can be eaten room temperature making them great for lunchboxes.

A few things to be kept in mind :-

  • Cook the rice a few hours or a night before. Cold rice won’t break when you mix it with the spices and stir fry.
  • Try to grind the spices fresh for a better taste or max 1-2 days ahead and store in an air tight container.
  • I use thick tamarind pulp, dont use watery tamarind else the rice will turn wet.
  • Add any vegetables that you like- peas, yellow squash and spinach go well.

Zucchini & Shrimp Tamarind Rice

Inspired by south indian tamarind rice, this spicy tangy rice with fresh zucchini and shrimp makes for a great summer meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 lb extra large shrimp, cleaned, tail on
  • 4 tbsp oil (divided)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 thai bird, slit (adjust to taste)
  • 2 to 2.5 cup cooked rice
  • 3 tbsp tamarind pulp (not paste)
  • 1 tbsp jaggery
  • 2 tbsp roasted cashews
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Spice Powder (makes extra)

  • 6 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustrad seeds
  • 2 tbsp white urad dal
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds


  • Lighly dry roast all the ingredients for the spice powder in a skillet. Cool slightly and grind to a powder(not too coarse or super fine).Keep ready.
  • In a wide skillet (12 or 14 inch), heat up 1.5 tbsp oil on low medium heat. Once oil is warm, lower the heat and layer the shrimp and sprinkle a little salt. Cook 2-3 minutes each side. Once orange and cooked through, transfer to a plate.
  • Now we have to work quickly. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat on medium. Add the onions and lightly brown them. Next add curry leaves and let crisp a bit.
  • Next add the zucchini, green chilli and garlic and saute them for 1-2 minutes taking care that zucchini isnt too soft.
  • Add the tamarind pulp and jaggery next and quickly mix for 30 seconds or so. Add the rice and cashews to the skillet. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the spice powder that we made along with salt. Also add a little splash of water if you feel that rice is getting too dry.
  • Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until warmed through and slightly crisped.
  • Serve immemdiately with papadams.Enjoy!