Saturday, August 30, 2008

CSA - South Indian Shrimp Curry

I checked my curry leaves today and while they were much faded from their prime, there was a still a little life left in them. That means one more South Indian curry before they get the toss. I do wish ? Farms would supply their more esoteric herbs in smaller batches; I can't imagine I'm the only one having trouble using them all up.

I didn't change the recipe from how I found it on Epicurious (from the latest issue of Gourmet it says there) other than compensating for the weak curry leaves so I'll ask you to click over for the specifics. Here I'll just illustrate the process and discuss the results. To do that I'm trying a new format: a picture post.

The recipe starts with frying up the aromatics: curry leaves, chilies (and plenty of 'em), garlic and ginger.

Then go in the spices: coriander, cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds, salt and pepper. The recipe said to turn the heat down and wait for the seeds to pop, but mustard seeds don't pop at medium heat so leave the heat up.

Next the onion, cooked until it's softened and soaked up the spices.

Then goes in tomato and coconut. My tomato was not very juicy and my coconut was dried so I ended up adding water now and again to keep the sauce saucy. I probably added a full cup by the time it was done.

Maybe that was a mistake as the flavors are not nearly as intense as I expected. (In the picture at Epicurious it looks like they didn't add water. But they don't seem to have peeled the shrimp either so it's designed for a beauty shot not for flavor and if you've read my review of Abokado you know how I feel about that.) There's a bit of heat and the warmth of the spices, but the main flavors are the tomato, the coconut, shrimp and, if you get a good bite of one, curry leaf each individual and not really tied together into a synergistic whole. After taking the pot off the heat, I added a second stem of curry leaves, crushed and lightly fried in oil to release their flavors; I'm glad that effort paid off, but all of those great aromas from the first couple steps of the cooking process are just background players, not strong enough to successfully unify the dish. Still and all, it's tasty if not fabulous. And, if you've got some peeling and chopping help in the kitchen, a cinch to make.

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