Just about every Keralite (southern Indian state) would be familiar with some variation or other of this dish. Image Credit: Anupa Kurian-Murshed

Cusines
Indian
Prep : 15 m
Cook : 30 m

Ingredients

    It is a dry roast, a far cry from the Western understanding of a roast, as it involves sliced onions, ginger, garlic, densely aromatic spices and curry leaves. I am not too keen on meat but love this Sunday staple from my beautiful green state. The layering of flavours creates this fiery burst in every morsel, which makes for a most satisfying meal. Some like it super-hot, while there are those that say a silent prayer before scooping up a serving. As I follow the middle path and have always had a soft spot for a kind of jugalbandi or duet of flavours in my preparations, shrimps were the star of choice.

    • 12 tiger shrimps
    • ½ Roma tomato diced
    • ½ Roma tomato puréed
    • 1 onion minced with 2 green chillies, 8 garlic and 1 inch of ginger
    • 3 green cardamom
    • 3 cloves
    • 1 slim piece of cinnamon (most people use Cassia bark, which is fine, too)
    • 2 bay leaves
    • ½ tsp of cracked black pepper
    • ½ tsp of red chilli powder
    • ½ tsp of turmeric
    • 1 tsp of salt (can be adjusted to taste)
    • 1 sprig of fresh curry leaf
    • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander

Method

Take about 3 tablespoons of oil, add to a curved, deep pan. You can also use a wok.

As it warms, add the bay leaves, followed by the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Some people add one whole dry red chilly at this point, this is optional. Similarly, you can increase the ratio of green chillies, black pepper and red chilli powder to suit your taste.

Once the spices start releasing their aroma within a couple of minutes, add the black pepper. Sauté for about 30 seconds.

Add the minced onions with the ginger, garlic and green chilly. Add the salt. Sauté till slightly golden. The caramelisation of the onion adds body to the flavours. The salt helps the onions turn to gold evenly.

All this to be done on a medium flame. Now turn it down.

Add the dry spice powders. Sauté. Be careful, as they can be quite strong. After about a minute, add a couple of tablespoons of hot water and further fry the spices. This eliminates any rawness that might exist in them.

Now add the tomato puree and cook till the water dries up and the oil is released. Add the curry leaves and diced tomato.

Sauté on a slightly higher flame for a few minutes, till the moisture is reduced. Now add the shrimps and cook over a high flame for a few minutes till the seafood is fully coated with the mixture and turns white.

Then cover and cook on a low flame till done. Just before serving, garnish with a tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander. Serve warm with unleavened bread or rice. Bon appetit!