I was searching for "shrimp" and "curry leaves" when I came across quite a few mango curry recipes. I had no idea such a thing existed and I've got to admit to being skeptical. The shrimp and mango curries were the oddest of the lot--the others were really more glorified chutneys--so that's what I decided to try. But most of them called for ingredients I didn't have or I just didn't like the look of so I added shrimp to this vegetarian mango curry instead:
by Madhur Jaffrey
Serves 4-6 Vegetarian
Preparation time less than 30 mins
Cooking time 30 mins to 1 hour
3 medium ripe mangoes, peeled pit removed and flesh cut into 1cm/½in pieces
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1-1½ tsp salt
55g/2oz jaggery or brown sugar, if needed
310g/11oz coconut, freshly grated
3-4 fresh hot green chillies, coarsely chopped
½ tbsp cumin seeds
290ml/½ pint natural yoghurt, lightly beaten
2 tbsp coconut oil or any other vegetable oil
½ tsp brown mustard seeds
3-4 dried hot red chillies, broken into halves
½ tsp fenugreek seeds [I'm all out. I need to restock.]
10-12 fresh curry leaves, if available
1. Put the mangoes in a medium-sized pan. Add 250ml/9fl oz water. Cover and stew for 8-10 minutes over a medium-low heat. Stir occasionally. Add the turmeric, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir well. (If the mangoes are not sweet enough, add the jaggery or brown sugar to make the dish sweeter.)
2. Meanwhile, put the coconut, green chillies and cumin seeds in to a blender. Add 250ml/9fl oz water and blend to a fine paste.
3. When the mangoes are cooked, mash them to a pulp. Add the coconut paste. Mix. Cover and simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes thick. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Add the yoghurt and heat, stirring, until just warmed through. Do not let the mixture come to the boil. Remove from the heat and put to one side. Check for seasoning. [I didn't get the fine paste required in step two so I used a stick blender to smooth things out at this point.]
4. Heat the oil in a small pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop (a matter of a few seconds) add the chillies, fenugreek seeds and the curry leaves. Stir and fry for a few seconds until the chillies darken. Quickly add the contents of the small pan to the mangoes. Stir to mix.
For the shrimp, I peeled and deveined them (some of the shrimp curries left the shells on) and tossed them with the salt and spices to soak in some flavor as the mangoes cooked down. It's a good technique to bring out the shrimp's flavor and a lot faster than brining. I'll have to remember that.
And the end result is just as good as it looks: really awful. It's warm, vaguely sweet grainy gritty yogurt. You can't really taste the mango; you can't taste any coconut and there's barely a hint of spice. Strain it and cool it and you might have a decent lassi. But as dinner? Feh.
So what went wrong here? First off the mangoes. They were under-ripe and not very flavorful. That's my fault there. A lot of mango curries did call for green mango so I thought it might work, but I should have stopped the moment I cut into the first mango and found out how mild its flavor was. Also, these are probably the wrong sort of mango. From what I've been reading I gather that Indian mangoes are rather tart and even if these were ripe, they weren't tending in that direction. And third, how large are Indian mangoes? I may have used far too much or far too little fruit. I dunno.
Second, the coconut. There was way too much of it. I suspect a mistake in the original recipe. Maybe if the water to coconut ratio was higher it would have actually blended into the paste it was supposed to. Or maybe freezing does something to coconut that keeps it from doing that. And it was quite tasteless. I'll bet real freshly grated coconut would worked much better. You'd think I could get that more easily around here.
Third, the yogurt. Is Indian yogurt thick like Greek or thin? Is it supposed to be tangy or mild? I'm guessing thick and mild since thin and tangy sure as heck didn't help. ...I've just done a little more research and confirmed that. I'll have to strain the remaining yogurt to get the right consistency for the next dish I'm using it in. But I think I'll cook something without curry leaves first. I'm getting a little sick of them at this point.