Friday, June 19, 2015

Spicy Shrimp Curry in a Clay Pot

Seafood is a favorite around our house. But you see, I read a lot about fishing, over fishing, sustainability, Chinese farmed fish, lead or mercury levels in fish and various other scary things about fish and the end result I hardly if ever not not worry about a fish purchase. That does not necessarily mean we do not eat seafood. I buy a lot of the frozen fish from Costco including the shrimp.

The best place to buy fish is of course the fresh market if you live close to the coast. That is not always a feasible option but occasionally that happens and you realize what a world of difference fresh fish really makes. Whole Foods occasionally has some locally caught fresh fish which is also a huge treat.

Lucky are those who have access to fish mongers who supply fresh catch. Unfortunately we are not that lucky. Let all this talk about sourcing fish make you think we hardly eat seafood. We do and Shrimp makes a regular appearance because the kids love it especially DD2. I always have a pack of raw frozen fish in the refrigerator.

This recipe came about when I was trying to recreate shrimp curry that I had recently tasted in a restaurant but without the floating oil and a lot more spicier. The thing about cooking seafood is, it is fast and requires not more than 30 minutes and most of that time is to cook the curry or gravy and not the actual seafood itself.

The most important thing to remember is that seafood be it fish or shrimp cook in a jiffy, usually in 3-4 minutes. It is important not to overcook else shrimp especially will become rubbery and I will never hear the end of it from DH.

Soak the tamarind. Wash the shrimp, drain as much of the water as possible, add a tsp of the turmeric powder and let it sit.
Dry roast the spices for the spice powder and make a fairly fine powder and set aside.
In a saute pan add oil and saute the onions till they start to turn brown. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a minute and then add the coconut and saute till they start to get nice and toasty and a slight brown tinge.
Reduce the heat and add the powdered spice powder and mix well. Add the turmeric and chili powder and turn off the heat. Let cool.
Add oil to the clay pot and when hot add the seasonings, cumin, fennel and mustard seeds and when the mustard starts to pop add the curry leaves, add the onions and saute till they turn slightly brown. Add the tomatoes and still till they turn mushy.
Add the blended paste with about 1/2 cup of water and the tamarind pulp. Let it come to a boil and reach a consistency slightly thicker than what you want the curry to be. At this stage add the shrimp.
After adding the shrimp cook only for about 3-4 minutes and not more. Add the coriander leaves and turn off the heat.

You could add the coconut milk towards the end if you have thick coconut milk on hand. I usually don't so I roast the coconut till it is nice and toasty and then blend it with the onions. It is very important not to over cook the shrimp so make sure after you add the shrimp to the boiling gravy to turn off it in 3-4 minutes max.

Spicy Shrimp in a Clay Pot
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 15-20 medium sized shrimp
  2. 1/4 cup of shallots or red onions chopped fine
  3. One ripe tomato chopped fine
  4. 1/4 cup tamarind pulp from a small grape tomato sized tamarind (optional)
  5. seasonings: mustard seeds, cumin, a pinch of fennel (sombu) and curry leaves
  6. 3 tsp oil
  7. For the spice paste
  8. 1/2 cup of finely chopped red onions or shallots
  9. 3-4 garlic cloves
  10. 1 inch piece of ginger
  11. 1/4 cup of grated fresh or frozen coconut
  12. 3 tsp turmeric powder
  13. 3/4 - 1 tbsp red chili powder (mine is mild, adjust accordingly)
  14. For the spice powder
  15. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  16. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  17. a few pepper corns
  1. Wash the shrimp, remove as much of the moisture as possible. Add a tsp of turmeric powder and set it aside.
  2. In a small sauce pan dry roast the spices in the 'For the Spice Powder' for about 2 minutes or so till they nice and toasty. Cool and blend to a powder.
  3. In a saute pan or a wide mouthed pan (kadai) heat oil and add the onions and saute till the tips starts to turn brown.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for a minute more.
  5. Add the coconut and on medium low flame saute the coconut till it starts to change color to a browner shade. Add the powdered spice powder. Mix it well. Turn off the heat. Add the turmeric powder and chilli powder. Cool and blend to a smooth paste with addition of maybe quarter cup of water. Set aside.
  6. Heat the clay pot, add the oil and when hot add the cumin seeds,fennel seeds and mustard seeds and when it starts to pop add the curry leaves.
  7. Add the onions and saute till they are slightly browned. Now add the tomatoes and saute till soft.
  8. Add the blended paste with about 1/4 cup of water,salt and the tamarind extract and cook till the gravy reaches desired consistency (about 6-8 minutes).
  9. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2-3 minutes. The shrimp should be cooked by now. Turn off the heat. It is very important not to overcook the shrimp. Remember it will continue to cook while it is in the hot curry.
  10. Sprinkle the coriander leaves.
  11. Serve with rice or any Indian bread.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi ISG,

    This looks so delicious! I've been missing my oh-so-easily-obtained fish from the east coast -- out here in Michigan we get lake fish but it's not the same. Shrimp is always in my freezer too! Now, where can I get a clay pot and will it be safe on an electric stove? :)

    Hope all is well!



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