Shrimp Balchao

Shrimp in a sweet-and-sour gravy

This dish from coastal Goa is essentially a pickled shrimp dish, but its sweet-and-sour taste makes it unique. I also make a vegetarian version using paneer. Serve with steamed rice.


  • 40 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2-inch (5-cm) piece fresh ginger, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 15 dried red chiles, stemmed and broken in half
  • 10 to 12 whole cloves
  • 2-inch (5-cm) cinnamon stick, broken
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 cup (200 ml) malt vinegar or cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup (150 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  1. Put the shrimp in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Toss once and set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Put the ginger, garlic, cumin, chiles, cloves, cinnamon, mustard seeds, and vinegar in a food processor, and process to a paste.
  3. Place a medium nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and add the oil. Add the shrimp and fry until they turn pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add the onions to the oil remaining in the pan and sauté over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Add the tomatoes and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the tomatoes turn pulpy.
  6. Add the ground paste and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the oil begins to come to the top and the vinegar evaporates. The final mixture should be wet but not runny.
  7. Add the shrimp and stir well. Add the sugar and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot.