Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shrimp Masala

When I recently made Masaledar Cholay, I also made a Shrimp Masala dish.  I found this dish by Aniamma Philip, which was on the Food & Wine website.  The recipe is based upon or inspired by the cuisine of Kerala. 

Kerala is a state on the Malabar Coast in southwestern India. Its cuisine has a long history, which has been affected by influences, dating back even to ancient Greece and Rome.  More recently, the Arabs and Europeans have influenced cooking in Kerala.   These influences are seen in some Keralan dishes, but, apart from this little tidbit of culinary history, what fascinates me the most about Keralan cuisine is the use of spices in the dishes, especially in its curries.  Keralan dishes feature a wide range of spices, including cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and chiles. 

According to the recipe, Keralites use tiger prawns with a complex paste of ginger, garlic and eight different spices.  Although the paste may be "complex," the dish is actually easy to make.  It is also very delicious too. 

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients (for the Masala):
1 1/2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
Seeds from 1 cardamom pod
1 whole clove
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Ingredients (for the Shrimp):
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 fresh curry leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup canned whole tomatoes with juice
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined

1.  Prepare the masala paste.  Combine the coriander, cardamom and anise seeds with the clove, crushed red pepper, cinnamon and peppercorns in a spice grinder.  Grind the ingredients to a fine powder.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the oil, vinegar, ginger, garlic and turmeric.  Season with salt.

2.  Prepare the masala.  Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add the curry leaves and cook over moderately high heat until they sizzle, which should take about ten seconds.  Add the garlic, onion, and ginger. Cook for about ten minutes over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and starting to brown.  Add the masala pasta and cook, stirring frequently, for about five minutes until it is fragrant.  Add the tomatoes and their juice, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. 

3.  Cook the shrimp.  Add the shrimp to the skillet in an even layer and season with salt.  Simmer, turning once until just cooked through, about 3 minutes.  .Serve immediately.


Food & Wine recommends a Sémillon as a pairing for this dish.  Apart from a French Sémillon, there are vineyards in California and Washington who produce some great wines.  I have reviewed a Sémillon from Washington State, which would pair well with this dish:

L'Ecole No. 41 -- Columbia Valley Sémillon
100% Sémillon
Walla Walla, Washington, USA
Flavors of pear and apple.


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