Saturday, 21 January 2012

Quick Coconut Masala Shrimp

Okay, this isn't a picture of quick coconut masala shrimp, but it is about Indian cuisine, since the camel is stealing banannas!

My friend Allison phoned yesterday, asking me for “that shrimp dish” recipe.  This dish requires a lot of hovering and stirring, but it’s fairly quick, about half an hour.  Don’t even think of ditching it to go to the bathroom, or check your email.  Commit yourself to this and you will love it! 

Quick Coconut Masala Shrimp

The Masala
Actually, you can use this masala for any fish recipe, adding a little jaggery if you like it.

1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
2 cloves
4 green cardamoms crushed in a mortar and pestle and de-husked
1 black cardamom treated like the green
1 piece of mace
10 black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika 

Use a large shallow pan to cook this in, putting on the heat to medium when your whole spices are assembled. Add them to the pan, watching carefully.  (Don’t add the powdered spices at this point as they’ll burn.)  You want to see a slight bit of smoke wafting up from your roasting whole spices, but the spices shouldn’t turn a dark colour.  When it smells heavenly, pour them into your grinder (a committed coffee grinder for this purpose only is fine), along with your ground spices.  Grind till you have a nice powder.  Inhale the fragrance and ask yourself if the easiness of the boxed masalas is really worth it.

The Shrimp and Vegetables

1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter available in jars)
1/2 teaspoon dark mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed (yes, that’s more cumin seed!)
1 small red onion, diced
1 inch ginger, matchsticked
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, julienned, depending on how hot you like it
2 to 3 diced red sweet peppers
1/4 cup coconut powder mixed into 1 cup water
2 or 3 tiny limes or 1 regular lime

About 15 to 20 frozen shrimp, raw, cleaned and shelled, but with tails on.  I know, I know, whaddya mean frozen shrimp?  I live in Calgary, for heavens sakes, the nearest ocean is a thirteen hour drive at 110 kilometers away.  We have roadside shrimp stands, but apparently they promise food poisoning.  If I were to shell out the money for fresh shrimps, I’d still follow this recipe, but cook the shrimp in less time.

So, heat that pan up to high, and add your ghee when it’s hot.  Sprinkle a couple of mustard seeds in, and when they’re hot, add the rest.  Stand back, cringing.  They splatter and sting.  In a few moments they’ll turn white, so quickly add the cumin seed which will also sizzle and turn white.  Add the onion and ginger.  Stir to cool the pan and turn the heat down to medium.

After the onions have softened and carmelized a bit, add the jalapeno, and the masala.  Stir to make sure the masala cooks evenly for a few moments.  Add the diced sweet peppers, the coconut mixture, and put a lid on everything for about fifteen minutes.  Okay!  Now you can go to the bathroom, but don’t touch your email.  You can pour yourself a glass of wine, though.

When your peppers are soft, use an immersion blender to puree the works.  It will be fairly thick, but the shrimps will dilute it as they thaw.  (If you’re using fresh, add maybe 1/4 cup of water at the most.)

Add your shrimp to the sauce, crank the heat back up to high and stay there.  As soon as one starts to turn pink, gently flip it over.  This is where you really need to hover, ever watchful, tending to those babies.  If parts of your pan are hotter, move the fully cooked shrimp out, and bring the others to the hot spots.  (If I were using fresh shrimp, I’d keep the temperature at medium.)

Even frozen shrimp should take less than ten minutes to cook, so be very careful.  If their little pink bodies curl into tight foetal positions, take them off the heat at once!  Squeeze your lime juice over the works.

Serve over basmati rice or with chappatties.  (More on chappatties later.  I personally find them to be killer difficult, but you could substitute whole wheat pita bread, I suppose.)  Anyway, this quick coconut masala shrimp recipe will delight you.


  1. This sounds delicious! I love your tag line: "It's not your mamma's cooking"

    1. Will be posting more about the mamma in upcoming weeks.