Shrimp Balls From Bahrain

Bahraini Appetizer

(Chebeh Rubyan)


1⅔ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined*
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
⅔ cup rice flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro


¼ cup ghee or butter (2 tablespoons more later)
1 medium onion (1 small one later)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ tablespoon baharat spice mix** (½ teaspoon more later)


1 medium onion
4 tomatoes
¼ cup ghee or butter
½ teaspoon baharat spice mix
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 teaspoons tamarind paste***
5 teaspoons sugar
4 cups warm water

* = Save money and buy shrimp with a large count per pound. It will be ground into a paste.
** = Buy at Middle Eastern supermarkets or order online.
*** = Or use 3⅓ teaspoons tamarind concentrate. Or even soak 4″ of a tamarind in 2 cups warm water and use the resulting tamarind flavored water, or 4 teaspoons pomegranate molasses.


food processor****
sonic obliterator****

**** = Do not confuse the two.

Serves 12. Takes 1 hour 40 minutes.



Add all shrimp-paste ingredients to food processor. Blend until you get paste. Refrigerate until needed.


Mince medium onion. Add ½ cup ghee and minced medium onion to 1st pot. Sauté onion at medium-heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Stir frequently. Add lemon zest and ½ tablespoon baharat spice mix. Stir until well blended Remove from heat.


Mince small onion. Dice tomatoes. Add diced small onion and 2 tablespoons ghee to 2nd pot. Sauté onion at medium-heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Stir frequently. Add ½ teaspoon baharat spice mix, chili powder, sugar, tomato, and water. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.


While sauce simmers, use your hands to make a ball out of 1 tablespoon shrimp paste. Use a thumb to make a cave in the middle of the shrimp ball. Put ¾ teaspoon filling in cave. Close shrimp paste completely over filling. Repeat until all shrimp paste and filling is used.

Divide sauce equally into 2 pots. (You most likely won’t have enough room in just one pot for your shrimp balls.) Gently drop shrimp balls into the 2 pots with the simmering sauces. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. Goes well with rice.

Use sonic obliterator on any guest giving you any guff at all. You spent too much time and money finding the ingredients, not to mention the time cooking this wonderful dish, to put up with that kind of negativity.


1) It was really, really big day when a herd of shrimps pulled themselves out of a small lake and onto the shore. You can see them above in the photo for this recipe.

2) Some scientists believe that fish became the first amphibians. But culinary evolutionists pooh pooh the idea. “Where are the arms on fish? Where are their legs? Surely, shrimps were the first amphibians. Why shrimps have scads of legs.”

3) When pressed for a reason for shrimps to venture onto land at 11:30 a.m. on May 29, 3,600,000 BC, spokesman Carl La Fong, “Why, because it was there.”

4) Creatures and people would continue to investigate things simply because they were there. Then at 11:30 am on May 29, 1953 Hillary* and Norgay climbed Mt. Everest because it was there.

6) * = This Hillary was Edmund Hillary, not Hillary Clinton. She went into politics.


– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on


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