Recipe: Shrimp in a Spicy Tomato Sauce
Laura Kelley has provided ThingsAsian a recipe from her cookbook series The Silk Road Gourmet. This week's recipe is Shrimp in a Spicy Tomato Sauce. This spicy dish has complex layers of flavor created by toasted whole fennel and mustard seeds, cumin and coriander, chili peppers and cilantro, lemon and tamarind. But like Laura says in her prelude to the recipe, "Tell your taste buds to batten down the hatches and prepare for a spicy, slightly sour surprise that they're going to love!
1 pound shrimp, peeled, rinsed and deveined
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard or other seed oil
2 tablespoons peanut or light sesame oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
3-4 hot, dried, red chili peppers, torn or chopped
1 medium onion peeled, sliced, and separated into crescents
1 teaspoon garlic, peeled and chopped
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
1 ½ cups tomato sauce
½ teaspoon tamarind paste dissolved into 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 small bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (15-20 sprigs)
¼ teaspoon Indian Garam Masala (see recipe below)
Prepare shrimp or scallops and place into a bowl with the cayenne pepper, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Stir well, cover, and set aside for at least 1 hour.
Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and when hot, sauté the fennel and mustard seeds for a minute or two. Add diced chili peppers and remove from the heat and set aside for a few minutes.
Warm the sauté pan with the fennel and mustard seeds up again and add the onions and garlic. Stir and fry until the onions turn slightly brown. Now put in the cumin, coriander, and tomato and mix well. Cook 3-5 minutes to fully warm the spices. (If mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.)
Add tomato sauce, tamarind, lemon juice mixture, salt, and fresh cilantro leaves. Cover and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Add garam masala and shrimp and mix well. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until shrimp are fully cooked.
Indian Garam Masala
This is a wonderful pungent mixture of spices that smells both sweet and
spicy at the same time. It is used in complex curries to balance the more
traditional elements and also as a final garnish to sprinkle over dishes.
Quite by accident I once used it on a salad of tomatoes and onions and
found the taste to be a delicate alternative to the spicier cumin I thought
I was using. My family agreed, and that salad has become a regular visitor
to our table.
It is always best to grind closest to the time of use for the best aroma
and flavor, but I keep a small amount ground and on hand for ease of use.
There are many different recipes for garam masala, so feel free try others
or experiment around with one of your own.
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 2-inch cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoons cloves
½ average nutmeg corm
Grind all ingredients in a clean food grinder. Store mixture in a jar with
a tight-fitting lid.