yogurt and coconut curried mussels


Back in Bombay we ate plenty of seafood, probably about two to three times a week. Fresh fish would be delivered right to our doorstep by a local fisherwoman with whom my mom would always bargain for a better deal. They would go back and forth with each other trying to get the most of the deal that was to be struck between them. I think this was also probably how I learned to haggle, though not as efficiently. I would excitedly watch the assortment of fresh fish, shrimp, and crabs that filled her large basket. On some days we would eat clams stewed in broth while on other days, pan-fried mackerel seasoned with a concoction of spices. Oceans away here in D.C. we are lucky enough to have a fresh seafood market and I really do need to take more advantage of this gem. It's nice to have a source where you can go and literally "fish through the fish" and pick out what you want for a good price.

Spring Blossoms
Onion and Forsythia

On our latest trip to the market, we picked up a fresh bag of mussels in addition to a bushel of freshly steamed crabs. It turned out we bought way too many crabs for three people. I was so excited to cook the mussels, that off they went into the stockpot as soon as we reached home. This is a Goan-based recipe that I use quite often based on my mother's original version that I've modified and changed a little along the way. It has all the goodness of a rich and flavorful Indian curry but much lighter.

My kitchen filled up with the aroma of the sautéing onions, ginger, and garlic while the spices blended in. The mussels simmered and cooked in vinegar and coconut milk and by the time the yogurt was folded in, there were some hungry faces at the table. But there was still had a second or two before we could dive into our bowls, the mussels needed a splash of fresh lime juice and a little cilantro to freshen up and brighten the flavors. Once the mussels were served and devoured and the broth all gone, I knew that another trip to the market might happily be in my future a little sooner than I had anticipated.

Bread and Limes
Mussels and Grated Ginger
Mussels in Yogurt Broth

steamed mussels in yogurt broth

yields: 4 servings


2 1/2 lbs mussels
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium size red onion, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon ginger root, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin, ground
1/4 teaspoon cloves, ground
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea-salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 cup white rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3-4 fresh/dried curry leaves
1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
juice of 2 freshly squeezed limes
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1. Wash and scrub the mussels clean under cold water, remove any beards if present and keep the cleaned mussels on ice. 
2. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil on a medium flame. Sauté the onions, garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes or until the onions turn translucent. Add the turmeric, cumin cloves, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and cook for another minute with constant stirring. 
3. Stir the coconut milk, vinegar, and curry leaves into the onion mixture.  Fold in the cleaned mussels and cover the stockpot with a lid. Bring the broth to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer.
4. Beat the yogurt in a small bowl and mix it along with the lime juice into the broth. Taste the broth and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Discard any mussels that did not open during the cooking.
5. Garnish the mussels with the cilantro. Serve hot with warm toasted bread or plain rice.