This is my version of an Indian prawn curry, which combines aromas, spiciness, sweetness and tanginess. Please note that this recipe is sans coconut milk. For a creamier variation, some coconut milk may be added during simmering, and for a smoother texture, the gravy can be pureed after adding the tomatoes.
10 medium shrimp, shelled, rinsed and deveined (the tail may be left on, if one so desires)
1 tsp of black mustard seeds
About ½ inch piece of tamarind
1-2 small green chiles, chopped
3 peeled garlic cloves
about ½ inch piece of ginger
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 chopped onion or a few chopped shallots
½ tsp of cumin powder
½ tsp of coriander powder and/or (optional) coriander seeds
1 tsp of garam masala
1 tsp of rasam masala (if available, if not, a pinch of red chile powder or a few broken pieces from a red dried chile)
½ tsp of turmeric powder
About 8 oz. of grape tomatoes, chopped
1/4 inch cube of jaggery
10-16 curry leaves
a few cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
Cooking oil (I use olive oil, but one can use coconut oil or other oil of choice)
Note: All of these ingredients can be found at any Indian grocery stores or online.
Soak the tamarind in about 1/3 cup of warm water for about 30 minutes or more, then squeeze as much pulp as possible into the water, strain through a small strainer and set aside.
In a mortar and pestle, or a small food chopper, grind the green chiles, garlic cloves, ginger and cumin seeds to a paste. I recommend, that the first time preparing this dish, to only use one green chile, and later adjust the heat accordingly, with the rasam masala or red chile powder/pieces. Otherwise one runs the risk of this dish being packing too much of a spicy punch.
Heat the oil in a pan, and add the mustard seeds (and optional coriander seeds). When they start to pop, add about half of the curry leaves, then a few seconds later, add the chopped onions or shallots, and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally (5-10 minutes).
Add the prepared paste, and fry for a couple of minutes, while stirring, and being mindful not to burn it.
Add the powders (cumin, masalas, turmeric, red chile), stirring constantly for about a minute.
Add the chopped tomatoes, and simmer down for about 5 minutes.
Add the strained tamarind pulp/juice, the the jaggery, plus the remaining curry leaves and optional chopped cilantro leaves.
Add a few pinches of salt, then adjust to taste.
Increase the heat and simmer down for a few minutes until a thickened.
Add the shrimp and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to overcook them, as they will turn chewy.
Serve with basmati rice, bulgur, quinoa, or a grain/legume of your choice.
You can also serve this shrimp curry with roasted baby eggplant, as shown below. Simply cut some rinsed baby eggplant lengthwise into quarters, and toss with olive oil, sliced onions (optional), a small pinch of garam masala and/or rasam masala powder, cumin seeds, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 375F for about 40 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary, and serve along with the prawns.