Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Indian Shrimp Curry

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.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sautéed Onions and Roasted Beet Tart

Whenever I have extra onions in my pantry, this simple and delicious recipe makes a no-brainer tasty appetizer or snack. Typically, when I host a dinner party, I offer some variation of an onion tart or flatbread, which is always a big hit with guests.

You can make this tart with just onions and cheese, or add roasted vegetables of your choice (also see my earlier post "Free-form Butternut Squash and Sautéed Onion Tart").

This time I had extra beets, and thought, why not?


1 medium red onion
1 medium yellow or sweet onion
Extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of a medium sized pan, and to coat the beets)
1 red beet, cubed into 1/4 inch cubes
About 8 oz. of goat cheese or another cheese of choice (for example, sweet gorgonzola, blue cheese, fontina, fresh mozzarella, alone or in combination)- sliced into 1 inch pieces
A handful of micro-greens, or sweet pea shoots
Salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry (I used Trader Joe’s).


Preheat the oven to 375F.

Coat the cubed beets with olive oil and bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, for about 15-20 minutes, turning once. Be careful not to burn. Sprinkle with salt.

In the meantime, prepare the onions. Cut off the top of each onion and place cut-side down on a cutting board. Cut the onion lengthwise (vertically) in half, and remove the peel and outer layer.
Place the flat half back on the cutting board, and again lengthwise, slice  each half into relatively thin slices (about ⅛ inch thick).

Heat the olive oil in a medium size frying pan, add the sliced onions, and saute’ until translucent, for about 15 minutes, covered about ⅔ of the cooking time, stirring occasionally. To prevent the onions from burning, you may add about 1/4 cup of water about halfway through, and allowing it to evaporate. Once cooked, add salt and pepper to taste.

Gently unfold the thawed pastry, and if you see any tears or holes, use your fingers—and a little water if necessary—to gently squeeze the pastry back together.  If the dough appears to stick together, put it back in the refrigerator to cool, before attempting to roll it out again.

Lay the unfolded pastry square on a floured surface, and rub some flour on a rolling pin, which you will use to roll out the square to the desired thinness (but not too thin).  Roll the dough out with gentle outward motions.   Run a ravioli wheel or a knife along each side to create more even lines. The left over pastry dough can be molded together and flattened again, and shapes can be carved out to top the tart during baking.  

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully lay the thinned pastry dough on it, and with a fork prick the surface of the dough (like you would a regular pie crust).

Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and spoon the sautéed onions (after draining off any of sautéing liquid) evenly over the lightly baked pastry. Top with the roasted beet cubes and cheese, and any pastry shapes made from the left-over pastry.

Bake at 350-375F until golden brown (about 20minutes).Slightly cool, sparsely add the micro-greens, slice and serve.

May be refrigerated for up to 3 days,  and reheated. 

For a vegan option, use vegan puff pastry and omit the cheese, or use a vegan cheese of your choice.