Indian Summer Tomato and Shrimp Orzo

14 Sep

If you live in the North East, summer is that time of the year when everyone and everything seems vivacious, buoyant and liberated.  It’s the time of the year to pack in barbecues, pool time, camping, movies under the stars and everything summer related before it all fades away. In our household summer includes consuming copious amounts of fresh summer produce and seafood.  While, a lot of summer produce and seafood is often found year-round, the quality and assortment are extremely disparate from when they are in season.

My summer menus are usually inspired by all summer produce, but my partiality towards TOMATOES is often a rather controversial topic in our home. This is the consequence of feeding my husband every conceivable version of a hot and cold tomato soup and tomato salad last summer, till he was “tomatoed” out! This year I had to tread carefully and find less blatant approaches of working tomatoes into our dinners.  I worked furtively to reposition tomatoes – the Queen of Summer Produce from being the meal to the background essence of most of our meals.

This recipe is the outcome of one of these covert experiments. The union of tomatoes with onion, garlic and ginger – the trinity of Indian cuisine gives a traditional Italian orzo an exotic and exciting twist. Versatile orzo absorbs the favors of the tomatoes and Indian spices creating a light and healthy one-pot dinner.

Indian Summer Tomato and Shrimp Orzo

Servings: 4 servings (1 cup per serving)
Active time: 30 minutes    Start to finish: 45minutes


1 cup uncooked Orzo
26 uncooked medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
6-8 curry leaves, torn up if they are very large (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick, 1 inch piece
3 cloves
2 green cardamoms
1 medium red onion, diced
2 green chilies, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 Hot House red tomatoes, grated (See Cooks’ note)
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons table salt, divided
Frozen Peas, ½ cup defrosted
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon lime juice


  • To grate the tomatoes cut them in half across the width and remove the seeds with a paring knife. Use the larger side of a box grater to grate the meat side of the tomatoes. Discard the peels once done.
  • Leave out the shrimp and increase the peas if cutting back on shellfish.
  • While this recipe can be made year round, it’s the best to make it in the summer when tomatoes and shrimp are at their best


  1. Bring 6 cups of water to boil in a 2 quart or larger pot. When the water is at a rolling boil add 1teaspoon of salt and the Orzo. Cook the Orzo stirring constantly. Cook till the Orzo is al-dente (firm to bite) about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a 4 quart heavy pot over medium heat till it shimmers. Add the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop, about 1-2 minutes. Add the curry leaves if using them and cook for a minute. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the onions to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, green chilies and ginger and cook stirring, 2 minutes.
  4. Add the turmeric and chili powder along with 1 tablespoon of water and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes along with 1 teaspoon of salt and cook till the oil separates, about 4 minutes.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the shrimp and peas to the pot and cook till the shrimp is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  7. Stir in the cooked Orzo and toss everything together for a minute.
  8. Add the lime juice, garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

9 Responses to “Indian Summer Tomato and Shrimp Orzo”

  1. trialsinfood September 15, 2012 at 5:56 am #

    looks like a great summer dish and a good use of tomatos!

  2. frugalfeeding September 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    YUM. Orzo… I love orzo more than it is possible to put into words. This recipe sounds fantastic.

  3. Minal & Dhiren September 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    What a great recipe for summer with tips for a vegetarian twist. You are awesome!

  4. Sne September 16, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    I can’t wait to try this! Looks delicious

  5. Madhavi September 18, 2012 at 1:06 am #

    Having had the privilege to try this first hand, rest assured this is super delicious and you will go back for seconds and thirds. 🙂

  6. pc2163 September 27, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    I can’t wait to try this! Can you suggest a vegetarian protein I could try adding to the recipe in place of the seafood?

    • neharmorarji September 27, 2012 at 10:21 am #

      I haven’t tried this with a vegetarain protein, but have made it vegetarian by eliminating the shrimp and increasing the peas. I don’t think whole tofu will work here, as it won’t absorb the flavors. Chickpeas might be the best vegetarian protein for this. So try eliminating the shrimp and adding 1/2 a cup of cooked chickpeas. Please let me know how it turns out. BTW – I love your blog!

  7. Pedro Freyre September 30, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    Wow!!! I mean WOW!!! Tried this recipe last night and it turned out delicious!!! Your blog is so inpiring and easy to read. I can’t wait to try the tomato soup recipe!

    Good work my friend!!!


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