Goan-Style Shrimp Curry
Each region of the western coast of India has its own favorite shrimp curry, with no two cooks—even those who live on the same block—ever making the same recipe or revealing their family's secret. This recipe is inspired by a wonderful version that I had at a friend's home in Goa.
Sambhaar, especially when homemade, gives the sauce an amazing depth of flavor. Sambhaar is a spice blend that is the southern Indian equivalent to Garam Masala, a spice blend used often in northern India. The nutty flavor comes from the addition of channa dal (yellow split peas) and urad dal (small white lentils). I don't add the customary amount of fenugreek seeds as they can make the Sambhaar overwhelmingly bitter; if you crave a more traditional flavor, then double the amount of fenugreek. Add Sambhaar to soups, stews, and sauces or sprinkle onto meat before broiling or grilling.
There are times when I crave just the sauce of this curry so I make it without the shrimp and eat it with lots of rice. For the marinade
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground peppercorns
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
• 1 pound large or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined For the sauce
• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup canola oil
• 24 curry leaves, roughly torn (optional)
• 4 dried red chiles
• 1 teaspoon ground peppercorns
• A 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
• 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
• 2 teaspoons ground coriander
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
• 2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
• 1 teaspoon Sambhaar, or 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
• 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
• 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro For the Sambhaar (makes about 3/4 cup)
• 3 dried red chiles
• 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
• 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
• 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
• 1 tablespoon white lentils (urad dal)
• 1 tablespoon yellow split peas (channa dal)
• 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
• 2 teaspoons ground peppercorns
• 40 curry leaves (optional)
To make the marinade, place all of the ingredients in a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag. Add the shrimp, toss to coat, and refrigerate.
Set 1/2 cup of water next to the stovetop. Heat the oil with the curry leaves (if using) and chiles in a medium pot over medium-high heat until the curry leaves start to sizzle, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ground peppercorns and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the ginger, onion, and salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is browned, about 8 minutes, sprinkling with water and stirring whenever 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 the heat to medium-low and add the tomatoes to the pot. Cook, stirring and scraping the browned bits up from the sides and bottom of the pot, for 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the Sambhaar (see below) and cook for 1 minute, and then pour in the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil and add the shrimp and any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer and cook until the shrimp are curled and opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve. To prepare the Sambhaar
Place all of the spices in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toast until the mustard seeds begin to pop and the skillet starts to smoke, stirring often, 3 1/2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or coffee mill and grind until powder fine. Store in an airtight glass jar for up to 4 months.
Excerpted from American Masala by Suvir Saran with Raquel Pelzel. Copyright © 2007 by Suvir Saran with Raquel Pelzel. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.