Fenugreek-Scented Coconut Shrimp

This dish is spicy and quick to prepare. It only requires about 30 minutes to marinade the shrimp, and cooking takes only about 10 minutes. We would recommend going easy on the chilies used with the coconut puree. We used jalapeno not serrano peppers, and we used only one jalapeno. You may want to use only one half or even just one quarter of a jalapeno, and you may want to omit the seeds from that chili pepper.

This recipe comes from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries on page 279. If you can’t find tamarind paste, substitute an equal amount of lemon juice. Instead of 10-12 curry leaves, use 2 bay leaves.

1 tsp tamarind paste

1 tsp coarse kosher salt or sea salt

¼ tsp ground turmeric

1 lb. large shrimp (16-20 count per pound), peeled and deveined but tails left on

1 cup shredded fresh coconut; or ½ cup shredded dried unsweetened coconut, reconstituted (see Note)

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

4 fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chilies, stems removed

2 tbsp coconut oil or canola oil

1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds

10-12 medium-size to large fresh curry leaves

1. Combine the tamarind paste, salt and turmeric in a medium-size bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to combine. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes to 2 hours, to allow the flavors to meld. (Do not marinate too much longer, because the highly acidic tamarind and salt will break down the shellfish and turn its texture unappealing and rubbery.)

2. Put the coconut, ½ cup water, the fenugreek and cumin seeds, and the chilies in a blender jar. Puree, scraping the inside of the jar as needed, to make a gritty, chili-speckled paste (the seeds will be bruised, not totally ground).

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cover, and cook until the seeds have stopped popping (not unlike popcorn), about 30 seconds. Immediately add the shrimp, arranging them in a single layer, and sear them on each side for about 30 seconds. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.

4. Add the coconut paste and the curry leaves to the skillet, and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until they curl and turn salmon-orange in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Then serve.

Note: To reconstitute coconut, cover with ½ cup boiling water, set aside for about 15 minutes, and then drain.

Serves 4.

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