Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Goan-Style Prawn Curry

Always on the hunt for unique seafood recipes, I was delighted when I came across this wonderfully aromatic Goan-Style Prawn Curry by Suvir Saran. Best known for it’s beautiful beaches, rustling palm trees and tropical climate, Goa is equally well known for it's rich culinary history. A long era of Portuguese rule, combined with that of the Muslim and Hindu kingdoms, has left a permanent influence on the original style of Goan cooking, so that what we see today is an exotic and vibrant cuisine, abounding with intense flavours and robust spices. With over a hundred kilometers of coastline, it's no surprise that Goan cuisine is famous for its seafood: fish, prawns, mussels, oysters, crabs and lobster dishes are the speciality of the region, characteristically infused with coconut milk, tamarind, chilis and fragrant hand ground masalas, used to flavour most traditional Goan dishes.

Survir Saran's cookbook, American Masala

Chef and co-owner of New York’s Dévi restaurant, the only Indian restaurant in the US with a Michelin star, Suvir Saran is also author of American Masala, the cookbook that features this fabulous recipe for Goan-Style Prawn Curry. In the introduction, Suvir explains that each coastal town in India has its own unique shrimp curry, but typically no two cooks, even those who live on the same street, would ever make the same recipe or reveal the family's secret masala. 

Suvir Saran

Suvir's recipe for Goan-Style Prawn Curry was inspired by a wonderful dish he had at a friend’s home in Goa: the sauce combined classic Indian ingredients including aromatic curry leaves, dried chilies, fresh ginger, ground coriander, turmeric, curry powder and coconut milk, which are cooked together into an aromatic sauce. At the very end, the prawns which have been marinated in lemon juice, cayenne pepper, ground peppercorns and some salt, are added to the curry and finished with fresh chopped cilantro. 

An aromatic mixture of sautéed curry leaves, red onion, red peppers, 
grated ginger and crushed peppercorns

Crushed tomatoes, turmeric, ground coriander and coconut milk are then added

Served with rice, Suvir's Goan-Style Prawn Curry recipe is rich and aromatic with complex flavour and a little bit of heat, making this a delicious meal for a warm summer night, or when you need some warming up during a frosty February evening. Easy to prepare, this wonderfully delicious and satisfying curry takes less than an hour to make, making it an excellent recipe to explore the fragrant world of Goan cuisine.

Goan-Style Shrimp Curry (Masala Jheenga)
Serves 3-4
Adapted from Suvir Saran and Hemant Mathur, Devi

For the marinade:
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black peppercorns
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 tbsp lemon juice, from about 1/2 lemon
1 lb large or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined

For the sauce:
1 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
24 curry leaves, roughly torn
4 dried red chiles
1 tsp ground black peppercorns
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

To make the marinade, place all of the ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag, add the shrimp, toss to coat and refrigerate.

In a deep sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the 
curry leaves and chiles and heat until the curry leaves start to sizzle, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ground black peppercorns and cook for another minute. Stir in the ginger, onion, and salt and stirring often, cook until the onion is browned, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with water if the onion and ginger begin to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Add the garlic, coriander, and turmeric and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring and scraping the browned bits up from the sides and bottom of the pot, for 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water, and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and any accumulated juices, and simmer until the shrimp are curled and opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. If desired, serve with rice or naan bread.