World on a Plate

Exploring culture. One plate at a time.

Category: Recipes

Dirty Snowballs

 

These are a family favorite.  Being New Englanders we always called them ‘dirty snowballs.” I don’t think that needs much explanation.  They are simple and elegant and most of the work can be done ahead of time.

DirtySnowballs_2015

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, room temperature (takes about 20-30 minutes)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups AP  flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder diluted in warm water (optional)*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Note:  If you would prefer a peppermint flavor substitute espresso powder for 1 teaspoon peppermint extract.

Step 1

In a bowl measure out the AP flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Step 2

Combine in a mixing bowl the cocoa powder, about 2 teaspoons of the espresso liquid (if using),  granulated sugar and vegetable oil.  It should be well-mixed and glisten, shiny (means the oil is integrated with the dry stuff).

Step 2

Add the eggs one at at time — wait about 30 seconds after adding one before adding the next one. Finish this step by adding the vanilla.

Step 3

Mix the dry ingredients ever so slowly into the chocolate mixture on low speed until just combined–do not overmix. Go gentle into the batter of night folks. Keep the batter in the bowl, or transfer into a smaller one and wrap the bowl in plastic wrap.  Chill for 4 hours or overnight. This batter is better if made the day before and chills for 8 hours. It never hardens completely it is firm with give.

Step 4

Preheat the oven to 350°F,  line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats. Place confectioner’s sugar in a wide bowl as you need space to roll many at a time. Using two spoons get about a rounded teaspoon of the chilled dough and roll them into 1-inch sized balls using your hands Work quick as you want these firm and cool. Roll the balls in the confectioner’s sugar and place on the cookie sheets (you should be able to get a dozen or so on each baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool a few minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

 

 

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Cukes & Zukes.

Bread-Butter-Pickling 2015-06-30 at 8.49.31 AM

…or bread and butter pickles….I do about 80% pickling cucumbers and the balance is zucchini because they are everywhere in the summer. This recipe is the essentially the variation from the Ball Complete book of Home Preserving which if you are doing any measure of canning or pickling would be of endless value. This is the British variation which swaps out, in equal measure, white vinegar and white sugar with cider vinegar and brown sugar.  The taste will be sharper if you go the traditional route. Regarding the brining spices you can go with this variation here or purchase a pickling spice.  The bay leaf adds a crispy bite to the final pickle so if you like the crunch keep the bay leaf.  And that brine makes an excellent addition to cocktails especially a dirty martini.

You can scale this down or make a whole lot of pickles and skip the canning process as when done they will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.


Bread & Butter Pickles

Makes about five pints

10 cups pickling cucumbers sliced into 1/4″ slices  (trimmed of any blemishes, ends discarded)*

4 medium white onions, sliced thinly into rings

1/2 cup pickling or canning salt (see note below for kosher salt)**

3 cups cider vinegar

2 cups packed light brown sugar

2 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tsp celery seeds

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 dried bay leaves coarsely crumbled

Fresh dill about 1 sprig per jar

At least two hours ahead in a large glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl combine in alternating layers cucumbers/zucchini, onions and salt. Mix well. Let stand for two hours and up to four hours.  This process removes excess water which leads to good texture.  After it’s been sitting for that period rinse with cool water in a colander to remove the salt.

While the vegetables are sitting prepare canner, jars and lids for processing. This part I am assuming you know how to do if not see this over at the Ball website. Note I do the dishwasher technique for sterilization in pickling but not for jam. I haven’t lost any friends or family yet. I also experimented via a recommendation of placing washed jars on a cookie sheet in a 225 degree oven for 20 minutes. Leave them in there to keep warm.

Put a large pot on the stove and combine vinegar, sugar and spices.  bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add vegetables and return to a boil.

Fill jars and process.  My method–Using a ladle for the vegetables I first add fresh dill to the jar, then the cooked vegetables, then a little more dill, THEN I add top off with additional brine, leaving about a 1/4″ head space before placing the two-part lid.

If there’s not quite enough for a jar place in glass or ceramic storage bowl and pop in the fridge.  The flavor improves over a few weeks but after a week–so good.

*Upon selecting your cukes keep in mind the presentation of your sliced cucumber–I like a medium to small width for a pickle.  Also, if you want to do the zucchini just replace 2 cups of cukes with the zukes.  

**Kosher substitute = 1 1/2 cups flaked kosher slat equals 1 cup canning or pickling salt. In this recipe you’ll need 3/4 cup of kosher salt.

Lobster Chowder.

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Farmers markets at this time of year can be overwhelming, in the best kind of way. Corn is in super abundance and at a very good value. I easily over bought. So what does one do with corn for many and you dine as one? Time to turn out a summer favorite of mine–corn chowder.

After steaming and removing the kernels I decided to simmer the corn ears by just covering with water and adding a few sprigs of fresh basil, garlic, and dried chili peppers for about 50-60 minutes. I portioned off enough to replace the water called for in the recipe.

Recipe is a variation from a lobster fisherman as published in Yankee Magazine. In advance, I steamed the lobster versus a par-boil and could not see using all that butter as I have plans next week! Find the master version over here. And no, I do not know why his is red and mine is not. Hmmm.

Overall a win in taste as the lobster was sweet; the broth possessed a slight heat. I froze the remaining corn.

Note: The corn stock method is from the August issue of Bon Appetit. Photo is mine and taken with the one that is never far, the i-device.

Peach Pecan Pound Cake

A tongue twister of the most southern kind…

While rooting around for ideas for a simple summer fruit dessert for a dinner party I came across a peach pound cake in Southern Living.  Frankly, it made me anxious.  Not the ingredients, although peach schnapps is a little out of the ordinary.  It was the methodology. Pound cake is simple but there are small tips that will guarantee success.

All ingredients need to be of the best quality you can source.

Bring all butter, eggs to room temperature–it takes about 30-45 minutes. Really, this makes a huge difference.

Cream the butter and sugar together so the finished cake is fluffy and light.

And the final step that I take is one that will probably make many wonder.  Start the baking time in a cold oven.  That’s right, fill the pans, pop in the oven then turn the oven on. Bake for about an hour, test with a toothpick and when clean pull out from the oven. There are many bakers who say this is true with older ovens or less professional-quality ovens (apartment ovens!) as the heating begins at the bottom.  Others say it forms a better crust.  All I need to know is that since I started using these tips and this technique my results are consistent. It was shared by  Tom Hudgens and his “The Commonsense Kitchen”  during a butter making class.

So while I liked the idea of the original magazine recipe, I needed to make it my own by altering the method, adding honey, pecans (how Southern is that?) and cinnamon. Inspiration arrives in many forms.

peach pecan pound cake

Peach Pecan Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups AP  flour
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups butter, softened, cubed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup peach schnapps
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups diced fresh peaches (skins can remain)
  • 2/3 cup pecans broken into smaller pieces

Method

Do not preheat oven.  Butter and flour dust 2 loaf pans or a large bundt pan.  Tap the pan/s to remove excess flour.

In a bowl combine flour, cinnamon and mix  together. Set aside.  Take a generous pinch or two of the flour mix and sprinkle and toss over the diced peaches.  This will prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom.

In separate bowl combine peach schnapps, milk, vanilla and honey.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together, until the mixture is cohesive, light in color and fluffy.

Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon alternately mix in the eggs. Now add the milk-peach schnapps liquids and the flours by hand in 3-4 additions, blending in each addition only partially before adding the next one.  Mix until just combined so as  not to overmix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, speading evenly. Each pan/s should be filled about two-thirds full.

Place in cold oven.  Turn oven on to 325F.  Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cook in pan for 15 minutes; turn out cake on to a rack.

notes:

~if you don’t have cake flour just use AP flour instead.

~to finish the cake dust with confectioner’s sugar or make a lemon icing and drizzle over the top (mix 1 cup confectioner’s sugar with 2-4 teaspoons lemon juice depending on the consistency sought).

~serve on it’s own or with vanilla ice cream

Apricot-Almond Cake

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1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
13 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 apricots, cut in half and pitted, then cut the halves again
1/4 cup slivered almonds mixed together with 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease and lightly flour with cornmeal an 8″ round cake pan or an 8″ springform pan, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.

In a small bowl, toss the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer, until pale yellow and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula adding the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and blend by hand until just combined. Don’t use mixer as that’s will probably cause the batter to toughen. Gentle fold the dry ingredients into the batter.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. It’ll be thick so use the back of a soon to spread it out to the edges. Place the apricot halves, skin side down, at even intervals on top of the batter. Sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top of the cake followed by the brown sugar on top of the fruit and batter. I placed them just enough apart that when cut into 8 pieces everyone had a piece of apricot. You could leave use more fruit. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.

Notes

Original recipe calls for plums, you could also use peaches with the skins on.

Although I haven’t tried this I am pretty confident that replacing the AP flour with almond meal flour would taste quite good–and gluten free.

 

Cranberry Sauce Making

Cranberry sauce making with friends: 1 pound fresh cranberries, 1 1\2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup cider. Combine in pot on low-med heat. Stir. Cranberries will burst takes about 12-15 minutes. Makes about a pint.

Cranberry Sauce Making

Cookies & Cocoa

                Pumpkin_st

October in the Bay Area is, in most years, the best month to enjoy Mediterranean-like weather.  However, this weekend skies were gray and reports of heavy rains are forecasted for the days ahead. It's hot chocolate weather.  However I wanted something sweet alongside that treat.

So while it may come as a surprise to some, that for two years I have tried to replicate a pumpkin-chocolate chip cookie offered at the coffee shop in the little hamlet where I live with no success, I decided to try again.  The taste of this cookie: pumpkin with the hint of allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon  makes it a "seasonal" cookie in that I only eat it in the autumn.

I tried many recipes but they weren't of the cake-like consistency that this version turns out.  It's like a firmer pumpkin muffin.  Perfect for a fall afternoon tea break.

Pumpkin Nut & Chip Cookies

4 oz unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canned organic pumpkin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour, all purpose
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

3 tspns pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream softened butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer. Beat in, one at a time, pumpkin, egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice
and cinnamon together; combine this bowl of ingredients into the into bowl containing pumpkin
batter. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheets and bake on center rack for 15-17 minutes.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Adapted from a recipe from the California Milk Advisory Board.

Bacon – Chinese Style

                 ChineseBacon_2_edited-5w


A few weekends ago, after
leaving the SF Ferry Plaza Farmers Market I ended up being diverted through
Russian Hill.  As I navigated the car
over the hills I met up with a curiosity–a middle-aged Chinese woman tightening
twine  off a wooden stick held up between
two wooden chairs.  From his line hung
long 7” to 10” slabs of meat.  I
double-parked to take a closer look. 

 The basement level
apartment was dark inside excepting for a shadow of movement.  I waved and out came a middle-aged woman
with a warm face. It turned out to be Chinese bacon air-curing in the dry,
winter sunlight. As good a place as any right outside her apartment door on the
city sidewalk.  What I was able to piece together was that it was Lop
Yuk
or Chinese bacon.  Her mother
made a new batch every six weeks or so. 
“It’s much better and you save monies.” She said grinning. The simple
recipe involves the belly cut of the pig treated with Chinese wine (shaoxing)
soy sauce, brown sugar, and spices for seven to ten days or until it is hard.

 In order to use it in
recipes it needs to be soaked for about 6 or 7 hours before being sliced,
chopped and fried for use in recipes such as Chinese stir-fried greens or
Chinese sticky rice.  I’ve also simply
sautéed it and added it to scrambled eggs.

 Unfortunately the woman I
chatted with said that she never made it herself as her mother “only” was the
one to make it for the family.  She
said, “someday! I watch very careful!”


Chinese Stir Fried Greens with Bacon

Adapted from The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas

 

3 oz. air-cured Chinese
bacon, soaked in water at least 6 hours (rind removed), coarsely chopped

1 tblspn peanut oil

1 tblspn sesame oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled
and finely sliced

2 tspns salt

2 lbs Chinese shredded
greens (e.g. bok choy, spinach)

3 tblspns chicken broth

 

In a large skilled fry the
bacon over medium heat until crisps, drain on paper towels, and pour off all
but 1 tablespoon of the fat.  Add the
two types of oils to the bacon fat, increase the heat to high, and when just
smoking, add the garlic and salt and stir fry for 15 seconds.  Add the greens and stir-fry until wilted,
about 3-4 minutes.  Add the broth and
bacon and stir-fry until the greens are still slightly crisp, about 2 minutes.
Serve immediately.

 

Serves 4

Beautiful Breads – Spicy White Pepper Jack Bread

                Artisanalbreadsposters_2

The last four months have somewhat  erased any "regular routine" I thought I had.  After a few weeks restabilizing after India I took a 3-week trip to Boston to tend to family concerns. Now I’m back and although I started this post a few days ago I stopped when I heard the devasting news from Mumbai.  The new friends I made in Mumbai during my stay just a few weeks past are all  safe.  Needless to say it’s left me a little tweaked and unsettled given that I sat in the lobby of the Taj–a maginficient old lady–just people watching and think how special Mumbai and its people really are. 

Image: Artist Unknown

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A few days ago anticipating leftovers I decided to try my hand once again with making filled breads.  I have had pretty good success over the years perfecting technique while making chocolate babka.  This is only made at the holidays elevating it’s unique and special status to those that receive the tasty holiday gift.  Bread making, as much as everyone looks for a quick homemade route is time intensive.

However, my first attempt, about six months ago, with Cinnamon-Raisin Bread  from Margaux Sky’s Beautiful Breads & Fabulous Fillings left my little cottage smoky and me fuming  angry to the point of tossing the whole lot–bread and pan out the door and into the bin followed by some cruse words.  You see, these breads are not for the meek.  I’ve been making bread for years. I go through cycles were I am experimenting with egg breads, sourdough starters and no-knead breads.  They are a serious but rewarding endeavor.  This particular cookbook has such strong components:  a creamy Viognier and pineapple sauce; coffee liqueur mushroom sauce and a quick honey-mustard-curry sauce.  Unfortunately it is just a tad weak on technique and the recipes are written loosely so this is not for anyone on their maiden voyage.  With these filled breads you need to prepare the fillings in advance of the bread.  The rising and kneading are relatively quick requiring two rises. 

Long before Oprah’s name became synonymous with Ms. Sky’s Curried Chicken Sandwich she ran a  popular San Luis Obispo sandwich shop. and that sandwich is now called the "O Special." The chicken-based filling is sandwiched between Spicy White Pepper-Jack Bread. This, I thought, would be an excellent compliment to a post-Thanksgiving turkey salad. 

The entire effort probably took about 4 hours. The curry sauce is really just a honey-mustard  with a ration of 2:1.  Next time I would decrease the amount of honey as it was a tad too sweet for me.  Also I might do a blend of Monterey jack and its zippy cousin–pepper Jack. I also used a yellow curry powder which I felt guilty about doing as my masala dabba sat there begging to be used from my travels to India.  Old habits die hard.   Also, what I can’t figure out is Ms. Sky’s portions there’s no way the amount of curry sauce and jack cheese could be accommodated in this bread so I just did what I could.

The taste is good, especially when toasted and with the turkey salad and cranberry-quince chutney piled on top.    Also you would think Ms. Skye is a stock holder in Lawry’s Lemon Pepper–it’s used everywhere.  I forgot how tasty this blend actually is so it’s back in the cupboard.

Next on the horizon is Peanut-Butter Fudge Bread.  The basic white bread is made and tucked in the fridge.  This weekend we’ll see what lessons bloom from that effort.

Spicy White Pepper-Jack Bread

Makes 1 loaf – Adapted recipe from Beautiful Breads by Margaux Sky

Basic White Bread Dough (1/4 portion-see below)

2 tblspns olive oil

1 1/2 cups curry sauce (see below)

1 1/2 tblspns cayenne, 1 tblspn Lawry’s lemon pepper, 1/4 tspn salt – Mix together

2 cups shreded Montery Jack cheese

1 egg

2 tablespons water

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prepare the Basic White Dough.

Generously butter a 9-inch loaf pan.

Roll out  1/4 of the risen basic white dough into a 9" x 11" rectangle so that the long side is near you.

Spread the olive oil over the dough followed by the curry sauce.  Sprinkle the cayene-lemon pepper-salt blend over the curry sauce.  Sprinkle the cheese over the spcies.

Tightly roll the dough into a loaf, with the rolling action going away from your body. To hold in most of the filling, fold the outer edges of the dough in as you roll. When finished, pinch the seam together firmly.

Place the dough into the prepared loaf pan seam side down . Loosely cover with plastic wrap, place the pan in a warm, dry place and allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes.

Preheat over to 400 degrees. After rise bake for about 1 hour.  During the last 10 minutes of baking time sprinkle wome of the filing over the top of the loaf for color and taste.  Cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Basic White Dough
Ingredients: Makes 4 loaves  (but I cut the portions below in half and had success)

·       2 tablespoons yeast

·       4 cups warm milk

·       4 cups half-and-half (I used whole milk instead)

·       1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

·       1/2 cup powdered sugar

·       16 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

·       3 1/2 tablespoons salt

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk and half-and-half. Let stand for 5 minutes, until the yeast is foamy. Add the butter and mix with a whisk. Add the powdered sugar and mix well to break up any clumps.

In a large bowl (or stand mixer bowl), combine the flour and salt. Slowly add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and knead well. If you’re using a stand mixer, knead for 3 to 4 minutes. If you’re kneading by hand, knead for 4 to 7 minutes. Keep the dough moist for a soft, tender bread.

Place the kneaded dough in a generously buttered bowl, cover with a towel or loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, dry place for 1 hour.

NOTE: {START THE FILLING}

Punch down the dough with your fist, and divide into 4 portions, one for each loaf.

Curry Sauce

1 1/2 cups honey

3/4 cup spicy mustard

1 tblspn Lawry’s lemon pepper

1 tblspn curry powder

1/4 tspn salt

In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix well.   Makes 2 cups–you only need 1 1/2 cups for the bread–there’s extra if you want to warm it up and blend with your chicken or turkey.

American Masala

                Goa

I leave in 3 days for India. The task at hand for the last few  months has been to build a foundation in the essentials of Indian cookery. (Note to self: you seem to be adopting a distinctly British orientation to your spellings and vocabulary.)  In my research, and additions to my cookbook library, is American Masala by Suvir Saran. Also the author of Indian Home Cooking Chef Saran is co-executive chef at the 2007 1* Michelin restaurant Dévi in New York. 

The two cookbooks are approachable, fun and more than likely if you cook on a fairly regular basis your spice pantry will suffice. American Masala isn’t about traditional Indian food—it’s about adding new flavors to the great American melting pot, using spices to liven up the old standbys—from meatloaf to macaroni and cheese—and enjoying dishes that are exciting and diverse yet as familiar as your own mom’s cooking.  It’s a fresh take on contemporary Indian cuisine. 

Sambhaar is a spice blend that is the southern Indian equivalent to Garam Masala, a spice blend used often in northern India, which is to herbes de Provence or Chinese five-spice powder– a foundational, essence of the cuisine spice blend.  The nutty flavor of a sambhaar comes from the addition of channa dal (yellow split peas) and urad dal (small white lentils).  If you are unfamiliar with the Indian cooking, you may think this  blend is bitter tasting.  If making it at home, and you want a more traditional taste–double the amount of fenugreek seeds.   I have found over the last few months that preparing these blends in generous portions allows for quick prep during the week.

Chef Saran seems to be somewhat less strict than his peer Floyd Cardoz of Tabla when it comes to curry powder.  He taught a session at the Gourmet Institute two years ago and what I vividly recall was his distaste over curry powder.  While I understand the plea if it means making the dish or not after work or when pinched for time well he’s all about eating at home.

Other recipes that were tasty include the very quick Double-Basil Mussels with pasta shells–double basil as the herb is added twice in a tempering oil method–a central technique in Indian cooking which adds depth and intensifies the ingredients’ flavors. And once it gets cooler Tamarid-Glazed Meat Loaf takes a standard America comfort food in another direction.

Stock Image: Goa coast, India

Amermasala

Goan-Syle Shrimp Curry

Serves 8

For the marinade

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1 pound large or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined

For the sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 24 curry leaves, roughly torn (optional)
  • 4 dried red chiles
  • 1 teaspoon ground peppercorns
  • A 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Sambhaar, or 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

To make the marinade, place all of the ingredients in a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag. Add the shrimp, toss to coat, and refrigerate.

Set 1/2 cup of water next to the stovetop. Heat the oil with the curry leaves (if using) and chiles in a medium pot over medium-high heat until the curry leaves start to sizzle, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ground peppercorns and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the ginger, onion, and salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is browned, about 8 minutes, sprinkling with water and stirring whenever the onion and ginger begin to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Add the garlic, coriander, and turmeric and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomatoes to the pot. Cook, stirring and scraping the browned bits up from the sides and bottom of the pot, for 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the Sambhaar (see below) and cook for 1 minute, and then pour in the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil and add the shrimp and any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer and cook until the shrimp are curled and opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

Sambhaar (makes about 3/4 cup)

  • 3 dried red chiles
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white lentils (urad dal)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow split peas (channa dal)
  • 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground peppercorns
  • 40 curry leaves (optional)

Place all of the spices in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toast until the mustard seeds begin to pop and the skillet starts to smoke, stirring often, 3 1/2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or coffee mill and grind until powder fine. Store in an airtight glass jar for up to 4 months.