Shrimp, Squid, or Fish Balls

Kolmi Na Kavab

Depending on their size, these delectable mouthfuls can appear as hors d’oeuvres with drinks or as part of a meal. Since everything’s chopped micro-fine or pulsed in the food processor, it’s really better to start with small or medium shrimp. Jumbos (prawns) aren’t necessary here. What is necessary is not to be surprised if these kavabs fly off the plate before you’ve counted to ten. Use the dhana jiru if you want a true Parsi taste, but the kavabs are equally fabulous without. You can make twelve large or many smaller kavabs.


  • 1 ½ cups small to medium shrimp (about 1 pound), measured after peeling and deveining, or the equivalent in prepared squid mantles and tentacles, or 12 ounces snapper or cod fillets
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 green chiles, very finely chopped
  • ¼ to ¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) stems and leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic Paste ()
  • ½ teaspoon Dhana Jiru (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) chickpea flour (besan), or ½ cup grated potato, or ¼ to ½ cup fine bread crumbs
  • Peanut, grapeseed, or sunflower oil, for frying
  • Lime wedges


  • Chop the shrimp until they are nearly pureed and then combine with the egg, or buzz the shrimp with the egg in a food processor until they turn into a coarse puree. Add the onion, chiles, fresh coriander, paste, dhana jiru and turmeric if you like, salt, and flour. You should have a stiff mixture you can shape into balls with dampened hands. Add more flour if the mixture seems too slack.
  • Pour oil into a wok or karhai to a depth of at least 1 inch and heat. When it reaches 375 degrees, drop in a trial piece, just ½ teaspoon or so, and fry it until it’s brown. Taste it and add more salt if necessary, or more chile if you want things hotter. Then drop balls of the size you want into the hot oil, taking care not to crowd them. When they’re golden brown on one side, flip them and cook a little longer, until golden on the other side. Always remember what my grandmother said: Things in oil look misleadingly pale. Cut open the first one to be sure you have your heat and time right. You might want to reduce the heat so that the kavabs don’t get too brown outside before they’re cooked through inside, or even raise the heat a little.
  • Drain and serve as soon as possible, accompanied by wedges of lime.