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!

Sambar (Indian Lentil & Vegetables Stew)

Sambar is an utterly popular slow cooked south indian lentil and vegetable stew which is served with idlis, dosa, vada or steamed rice. It is fragrant, nourishing and very comforting. Lentils form a huge part of indian cuisine and every region has its own speciality. Sambar is an everyday dish of the south indian region and over years because of its delicious taste and nutrient dense value, it has become one of the most popular dishes in India.

However, in our north indian family, south indian food was made once or twice a month. It was a special meal and the preparations started a couple days ahead with mom fermenting idli batter and making chutneys. Her sambar recipe is the best if you ask me. I dont claim it to be the authentic for it differs in the selection of vegetables and the way she tempered it. So unlike the drumsticks and squash loaded ones, I grew up on sambar in which went chunks of capsicum(green bell pepper) and green beans and sometimes okra or eggplant. It was a warming, soul satisfying and a beautiful medley of flavors of sambar powder and taste of vegetables.

I make sambar like mom, with the same selection of vegetables. Be it the contrasting sweetness of jaggery and sour of fresh squeezed tamarind pulp or the chewy pungency of black mustard seeds and a subtle citrus nuttiness of curry leaves, every single slurp rings comfort into my soul..

Mom used store bought sambar powder and I do the same. We have a few favorite brands and I stock up on those whenever I go to India or someone is visiting. I sometimes find it in our indian store as well, its a pretty easy thing to find. However, if you do not have ready to use sambar powder, leave a comment and I will write you a recipe.

Many people like to use a blend of lentils but I make mine with just arhar daal (toor/pigeon pea lentils). Sambar is a easy thing to make and tastes better next day or after resting if you are serving the same day. You can prep the vegetables and make tamarind pup while the lentils are cooking(I pressure cook them) and just temper everything and simmer it for about 10-12 minutes.



A flavorful,south indian pigeon pea lentil & vegetable stew. Best served with idlis, vada, dosa or steamed rice. Can be easily made vegan.
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour


  • Pressure Cooker, Cooking Pot


For Boiing The Daal

  • 1 cup arhar daal (toor daal/pigeon pea lentils)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2.5 cups water

Vegetables (substitute with your choice of vegetables)

  • 1 small capsicum/green bell pepper cut into bite size pieces
  • 12-15 green beans cut into 1 inch long pieces
  • 1 medium firm tomato quatered
  • 6-8 sambar onions/pearl onions peeled

Tempering The Sambar

  • 3 tbsp oil/ ghee I use avocado oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3/4 tsp chana daal (bengal gram lentils)
  • 3/4 tsp split urad lentils
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 2-3 dried red chilies
  • Pinch methi seeds
  • 12-15 fresh curry leaves
  • 2-3 tbsp thick tamarind pulp adjust to desired sourness
  • 2.5 tbsp sambar powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp jaggery powder adjust to desired sweetness


Boil The Daal

  • Wash the lentils throughly 2-3 times under a running stream of water.
  • Place in the pressure cooker. Add 2.5 cups water and turmeric. Soak for 20 minutes.
  • Once soaked, pressure cook the lentils in the same water for 3-5 whistles on medium heat. Switch off and let pressure release naturally. While the lentils are still hot, add salt and using a wooden masher or back of spoon mash the lentils well so that no grain is visible. Set aside.
  • While the lentils are cooking you can prepare the vegetables and tamarind pulp. Keep everthing ready.

Make the Sambar

  • In a heavy bottom pot,warm up the oil. Temper the oil with mustad seeds. Once they crackle, add the hing, chana & urad dal. Cook till the lentils are browned in color.
  • Add the dried chillies and methi seeds next. Saute fo r5-6 seconds till they swell a bit.
  • Add curry leaves to the oil, they will immediatley splutter so be careful. Saute for 2-3 seconds and add all the vegetables that you are using at once. Sprinkle a pinch of salt. Saute the vegeatble for a minute or so with the spices.
  • Next sprinkle the sambar powder and red chilli powder (if using) and saute for 20 seconds.
  • Add the cooked mashed lentils next and mix well. If you feel that they are thickish, add water to thin out as per desired consistency.
  • Mix well and let come to a slow boil on medium heat. Reduce the heat and add the tamarind and jaggery. Taste and adjust the salt. Mix well.
  • Let simmer for 10-12 minutes on low medium heat stirring a bit in between. Initially you will see that there is a layer of foam on the sambar but as it cooks out, the color will deepen so will the flavors. Rest for 30 mins and serve warm!

Extra Tempering (optional but recommmended)

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil or ghee in a pan and add 1/2 tsp mustrd seeds,pinch of hing, 1-2 dried chillies and 8-10 curry leaves. Add on top of the cooked sambar and mix well.