Any Bengali with a teeny bit of sunlit space has a potted lime plant. We brighten up our dals with gondhoraj lime, we juice up a boring meal with a wedge of lime, and no bier bari (wedding) is complete without a side serving of nun lebu (salt and lime wedge). So, it’s a shame that lime leaves are not used more widely in Bengali cooking. I personally feel that lime leaves pack more flavors than limes and I like to incorporate lime leaves into any dish every chance I get. My favorite is to pack paturi with thin strips of lime leaves sprinkled on the fish. As the fish steams in banana leaves, the lime leaves render a flavor that takes the regular paturi to a different level. I love to add lime leaves while boiling moong and masoor dal, and to everyday chicken curries, and even in fish stews, especially the kind recommended for sick days. Basically, lebu pata (lime leaves) has never met a dish that it could not better. But Lebu pata die chingri or Bengali style shrimp with lime leaves is hands down my most favorite use of lime leaves.
Put the lime plant to good use and tell me how it brightened up your COVID-19 days.
PS: Adding potatoes to this dish stretches the meal by using less animal protein, which is necessary for maintaining an eco-friendly kitchen and lifestyle.
Lebu pata die chingri or Bengali style shrimp with lime leaves
- 500 grams shrimp
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp oil
- 2 green chilies slit
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 6-7 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 inch ginger chopped
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tbsp red chili powder
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste optional
- 2 large potatoes diced
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt to taste
- 6-8 lime leaves
- Clean and wash the shrimps and drain excess water. Add turmeric and salt, mix well and set aside for 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a pan and fry the shrimps for 45 seconds on each side. You do not want to overcook them. Overcooked shrimps get chewy. If they are not cooked all the way, it's okay because they are going to cook some more in the curry. Drain and remove the fried shrimps.
- To the same oil, add green chilies. When they start to splutter, add chopped onions. Saute onions until translucent, add ginger and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Mix cumin, coriander, and chili powder in 2 tbsp water and add the mix to the pan. Cook for 2 more minutes stirring continuously.
- Add tomatoes and cook for 5-6 more minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and mushy. If you are using tomato paste, add it now.
- Add potatoes and give a good stir to make sure the potatoes are coated in the sauce. Now add the water, cover, and cook over medium heat until the potatoes are cooked through. It takes about 5 minutes.
- You want to keep cooking the curry until oil separates. You may need to take the potatoes out at this point to prevent them from melting into the curry.
- Once the oil has separated, crumble the lime leaves to release the flavors and add to the curry. Add the shrimps and sugar. Stir and let simmer for 2 more minutes, adjust salt, and remove from heat.