I don't know why I waited this long to feature one of Madhur Jaffrey's recipes, as I rely on them regularly. If you like Indian food and don't own any of her books, I recommend you treat yourself to at least one. Her latest, Vegetarian Indian, is on my wish list (that being a list of things I'm really wishing someone will buy me for an upcoming anniversary, birthday, or Christmas...wink, wink, Baronis!). This delicious Stir-Fried Shrimp recipe is from her Quick & Easy Indian Cooking, a book I bought as research for a food story I was working on back in the 90s when Clinique hired me to write monthly health and beauty copy for its very first website. At the time, I wasn't familiar with Madhur Jaffrey, but I was intrigued by her quick-and-easy route to cooking Indian, a cuisine I hadn't yet tried my hand at. Unbeknownst to me, around the same time, Stephan, while working at Glorious Food, had collaborated with the renowned food writer on Indian recipes Glorious was preparing for one of its lavish parties. Fast forward ten years, when we leave New York City and move 25 miles up the Hudson and meet Ms. Jaffrey's lovely daughter and family, with whom we become fast friends. Clearly, a Jaffrey-Baroni connection was meant to be. (Did I mention that 3 of our 6 children are now at school together at Occidental College in L.A.?) And while we'd all prefer to eat Indian meals prepared by a member of the Jaffrey family, thanks to Madhur's amazing recipes, I don't feel like such a doofus in the Indian-food department. I made this dish last evening, and Stephan was, once again, blown away by its deliciousness. And the fact that I threw it together in less than 30 minutes!
Note from Madhur Jaffrey on the curry leaves: One of the aromas that I find very refreshing in this particular dish is that of fresh curry leaves. I know that they are not always easy to find. Whenever you do come across them, get an extra supply and freeze them immediately in flat plastic bags. They hold up quite well. If you can get only dried curry leaves, mix them into the cream sauce instead of frying them with the shrimp. If you cannot get them at all, just do without. The dish will still taste superb. To take fresh curry leaves off the stem, just pull along the stem with your thumb and first finger and they will come right off!
For the Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon store-bought garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (Chinese parsley, fresh green coriander)
- 1 fresh, hot green chili, finely chopped (do not remove seeds)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 small can (7 ounces) coconut milk, well stirred, or 7/8 cup heavy whipping cream
For Stir-Frying the Shrimp:
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 10 to 15 fresh curry leaves, optional
- 1 1/4 pounds medium-sized shrimp, peeled, deveined, and washed, then patted dry. (The cleaned shrimp could be covered and kept in the refrigerator overnight, if necessary.)
To make the sauce:
- Put the tomato paste in a bowl. Add the salt, sugar, garam masala, ground roasted cumin seeds, cayenne, cilantro, green chili, lemon juice, dried curry leaves (if you are not using fresh leaves with the shrimp), and 1 tablespoon water. Mix well.
- Slowly add the coconut milk or cream, mixing as you go. Set aside. (The sauce can be made several hours ahead of time and refrigerated.)
To stir-fry the shrimp:
- Put the oil in a wok or frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop--this takes just a few seconds--put in the garlic and fresh curry leaves, if using.
- Stir until the garlic turns medium brown and put in the shrimp. Stir until the shrimp turn opaque most of the way through.
- Add the sauce, turn the heat to medium, and heat the sauce through until it begins to simmer. By then, the shrimp should be completely opaque and cooked through. Turn off the heat.
- Serve with rice.