November 04, 2008
Shrimp or Prawns Curry...Goan Style
No, I haven't changed the profile of my blog.. Just hopping over to Goa for a visit thru my cooking...I haven't been blog hopping and visiting all my blogger friends and trying out new recipes as I used to.... "simbly" because there is hardly any time now amidst all the responsibilities.
Meanwhile, the bathroom work I had mentioned earlier is over and after 3-4 weeks of disruption, we finally have two brand new baths and the contractors and workers out of our house. Everything is spanking new and sparkling...when there is a new addition to the family, you feel unsure and possessive...with the new bathroom, I feel protective yet awkward.
Unlike in India, where the building supplies are tucked away in wholesale areas, not very accessible to everyone, here everything is available to the common man at the one stop Home Depot. Materials are relatively cheap here but the labor costs are too high.... the direct opposite of Asian construction. So when I was describing custom changes to my desi contractor, he was all heads shaking in agreement(in the desi style of side to side..like a pendulum)"yeah yeah no problem...." since there was not much additional material cost. Then at the end, when we were settling accounts, all the small changes turned into expensive man hours!! No wonder most people here try their hand at doing everything themselves from plumbing to electrical work to painting! You would see a handyman to a contractor to a homeowner here at the shop at the same time buying the same stuff.
You have to get involved in every small decision here if you want the bathroom customized which was a fun learning experience for both of us, but was also very time consuming. It did take some urgent paint color changes, last minute runs to Home Depot to change non-compatible faucets and tiles and a hazaar other small things to look into but we are finally there...
Now everything has been cleaned but still there is the dust that's slowly settling down that is still being cleaned from every nook and corner of the house.
Anyway, it was in one of these cleaning sessions that I found a Goan Cookbook tucked away in my bookshelf bought eons ago but never used. It was a sign to try cooking in a different way from the standard Yellow curry /pacha aracha and Red Curry/ molaku chaar for fish and in the span of 2 weeks, I have already tried out 3 recipes from it successfully.. all fish.. Just like the coastal state of Kerala, Goa hugs the coastline of the Arabian Sea, and has similar weather and vegetation and Goan Cuisine is very easy on the palate and immensely enjoyable if you like fish, chicken and coconut.
I could go on and on about Goa, a place that I have very fond memories of starting with a college tour, a case study tour for thesis, a family tour but I have to get back to my work so a quick note on this quick shrimp recipe which has a long list of ingredients but is really just blending it all together and cooking at one go.
You Will Need:
Potatoes-1 cut into cubes
Coconut Milk- 2-3 cup(1 cup thick and 1 1/2 cup thin milk)
Vegetable/coconut oil-2 tbsp
Green chilies-3 slit vertically
Onion- 1 small one chopped fine
Curry leaves 5
Tamarind- a walnut sized ball soaked in 1/4 cup water and extracted.(or 1 tsp extract)
Rice flour- 1 tsp
Sugar- 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
For the Spice Paste:
Dried Kashmiri Chilies-8 (They are less spicy and add lots of flavor and color)
Coriander Seeds-1 1/2 tsp (or roasted coriander powder 1 1/2tsp)
Cumin seeds-1 tsp
Rice powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp
Soak the red chilies in warm water for 5-10 minutes and then grind all the ingredients for the spice paste with 2 tbsp of water. You could substitute the red chilies with Kashmiri chili powder and regular chili powder but blend it with the other spices to let the spices soak. I use slightly roasted coriander seeds or powder as I don't like the raw taste. Also I use half Kashmiri chilies and half spicy South Indian dried chilies for added kick. If you can, do grind the spices with as little water as possible for a better flavor.
Place the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl with 1/2 cup water and microwave it for 4-5 minutes or until cooked. Drain the excess water and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a clay pot, (chatti) or heavy pan, and saute the onions for 4 minutes. Just until it starts turning brown at the edges and then add the spice paste. Saute this mix very well for 2-3 minutes on medium heat taking care not to burn it. It's done when the fragrance of garlic and chilies spreads everywhere and you have to turn on the exhaust. Add more oil if you feel its sticking to the pan.
Then add the thin coconut milk, green chilies, boiled potatoes and curry leaves. Cover and cook for 6 minutes and then add the tamarind pulp. When the mix comes to a boil, add the salt and sugar, and then add prawns. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the rice flour mixed with 3-4 tbsp of water. Let it boil for a minute, and then lower the heat and add the thick coconut milk. Do not let it boil too much after adding the thick milk. The rice flour thickens the gravy without needing too much coconut milk and is optional.
Do try this with Ann's Chitiaps(Rice Pancakes). I had served it with Jeera Rice and fish fry.