Between jet lag recovery and copious amounts of laundry last week, I realized I didn't make any new year's resolutions. Perhaps, I should have but I've been feeling rather good about not having set any sort of objectives for this new year. So I guess this year will be a dynamic one with me being as fluid as possible and living in the moment. Resolutions, adios!
Goa has many beautiful beaches and old churches but as I've said in the past, it is also famous for good seafood. You will find several restaurants built on the sand that serve great food and of course we partook in eating plenty. Though there are several different types of Goan curries, I wanted to share a very simple recipe that I make at home often. I used this curry base to cook shrimp and fish, it's easy to prepare and full of coconut goodness. You have the meat of the coconut which makes this curry thick and rich with a good dosing of dietary fiber. Serve this curry with a bowl of steaming rice or dip hot parathas or rotis into it and sip a glass of chilled beer!
Here are some of my kitchen tips while preparing this curry,
- You can skip the shrimp and use fish or veggies (such as peas, corn, green beans etc) , just remember to adjust the cooking time accordingly. I'm not a huge fan of eating salmon in curries but a white meat fish with a lot of flesh will be great here.
- You can make this curry as hot as you like or as mild. Adjust the amount of black peppercorns and chili accordingly. If you can't find Kashmiri chilies, you can use thai chili peppers or even cayenne powder.
- You could use coconut milk but to keep this dish as close to as what you would eat in a Goan home, I went with unsweetened grated coconut. You can find pre-grated coconut in the frozen section of most Indian, asian and international grocery stores. If you can grate your coconut at home, that's even better!
goan shrimp curry
1 lb shrimp (I used medium sized but even the smaller variety will be great here)
1 1/2 cups coconut, freshly grated (unsweetened only)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
8 small dried red kashmiri chiles or 1 teaspoon red chili powder (cayenne can also be used here, adjust amount based on taste or 2-3 thai chili peppers)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
20 black peppercorns, whole
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 cup red onion, diced + 1/2 cup thinly sliced
2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons tamarind extract (if using concentrate using 1/2 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1. Devein the shrimp and remove and discard the outer shell. If you like, leave the tail end of the shell on. Keep the cleaned shrimp aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Attach the blade to the bowl of a food processor. Place all the ingredients from the coconut to the 1 cup of onions and grind to a smooth paste. Add a little water (around 50-100 mL) if the paste does not move during pulsing, you might need to stir things up to ensure all the ingredients combine to form one smooth paste.
3. Heat the oil in a wok or kadai on medium-high. After about a minute when the oil is hot, add the remaining 1/2 cup of thinly sliced onions and cook until lightly seared and brown (about 4-5 minutes) with occasional stirring. Add the coconut-spice paste to the wok and cook the paste for about 5-6 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture begins to leave the sides of the wok. Stir the paste constantly while cooking to prevent burning.
4. Add the remaining water to the mixture in the wok and stir to combined. Bring the mixture to a boil. Fold in the cleaned shrimp prepared in step 1. Cover with a lid and cook until the shrimp change color and their flesh turns opaque (avoid overcooking as the shrimp can get rubbery). Depending on the size of the shrimp the cooking process can take anywhere between 5-6 minutes for larger ones and under 3 minutes for smaller ones. Remove from stove and garnish the curry with fresh cilantro leaves. Serve hot with steaming rice or naan, roti or flatbread.