Goa shrimp curry

B’s cousin cooked a tomato-based shrimp curry for us last weekend that inspired me to think about using seafood in desi cuisine. Over the weekend, we found a great seafood shop in Silver Spring, Cameron’s Seafood Market, and I picked up half a pound of shrimp for the purpose.

I decided to go with a curry inspired by India’s Kerala coast. Portuguese influence and trading culture have yielded a unique cuisine to this area. This seafood curry brings heat and spices together with the sweetness of caramelized onions, coconut milk and tomatoes to create a harmonious dish that is a delight to eat. B and I devoured it over lunch!

Starting off with fresh seafood that does not smell is key. I peeled the 1/2 lb. shrimp at home, using my fingers to pull off the shell from the leg side first and then around. It’s up to you whether you leave the tail on. Then I butterflied the shrimp, which involved slicing through the top of the shrimp with a knife, and scooping out the vein. (Video tutorial here.)

Once the shrimp is ready, sprinkle it with a teaspoon each of turmeric, salt and chili powder. The first photo in the gallery below shows the uncooked, seasoned shrimp.

To get started on the curry, fry two medium onions in 2 tbsp. of canola oil until they are brown and add 5 dried curry leaves, 1 tsp. mustard seeds and 1 tbsp. each of crushed ginger and crushed garlic. See my post on browning onions, and aim for this color before adding spices:

Cook on medium heat until the mustard seeds begin to pop, about 4 minutes:

Then place the onion mixture in a blender with 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk and 1 cup of tomato sauce. Blend and return to a pan, simmering on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. (Cover it slightly or use a splatter guard, and stir occasionally to avoid sticking.)

Separately, grill the shrimp mixture on a cast-iron skillet or in a pan (no oil) for about 2 minutes on each side, until the shrimp are no longer translucent. They should still be undercooked.

Add them to the onion mixture, cover the curry and let it steam on low heat for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in a handful of chopped cilantro and serve.

Yields: 4 servings.

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