I have a little confession: when The Best of Gourmet 1998: Featuring the Flavors of India came out I hadn’t even heard of Gourmet (I was actually still in high school!). And at the time I don’t think I had ever even tried Indian food. My love for both of those things came later; Indian food during college when my best friend (who happened to be Indian) not only took me to every Indian restaurant within a three town radius for sampling the best of what each had to offer, but also took me home with her one weekend where I got to relish her mother’s home-cooked meals. And my love for Gourmet came even later yet, when I started to discover the joys of cooking a beautiful gourmet meal at home.
So how did I come to be in the possession of such a book? It was a sunny afternoon and I was happily spending it outdoors…not hiking or swimming, but doing something that any food blogger considers a serious sport nonetheless: prop shopping! Specifically, I was hitting up a ton of yard sales in search of can’t-be-found-anywhere-else items. I saw the cover of this book and immediately knew I had struck gold. Not only does seeing Gourmet tug at my heartstrings (oh how I miss it!), but I can always go for Indian food. (I am not even joking…my hubby and I will plan date nights out and when he asks me where I want to go for dinner, nine times out of ten my reply is one of two things: 1) How about Indian?, or 2) How about Pakistani?.) I already knew I wanted the book, and as soon as I flipped back to the recipe of the cover dish (Coconut Tiger Prawn Curry) I immediately knew that it wouldn’t be long before I made it. I love curry, and what I loved about this particular curry is that it doesn’t have curry powder in it – just a variety of ingredients to provide sweet, heat, and spice. Read my notes below to see what I thought of this recipe.
Coconut Tiger Prawn Curry (Thengai Konju Curry)
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
2 garlic cloves
1 (1/2-inch) piece peeled fresh gingerroot
3 fresh hot green chilies, such as Serrano
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (14 oz) can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
2 lbs jumbo tiger prawns or jumbo shrimp (about 24)
1. Mince the garlic and gingerroot. Wearing rubber gloves, finely chop the chilies.
2. In a deep, heavy 12-inch skillet, cook the onion in the oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the edges are browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, gingerroot, chilies, and remaining ingredients (except coconut milk and prawns or shrimp) and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
4. Stir in the coconut milk and remove the skillet from the heat. (You can make the sauce up to this point up to 2 days in advance; cool completely, cover, and store refrigerated.)
5. Shell the prawns or shrimp, leaving the tails and first shell segments intact; devein.
6. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring. Add the prawns or shrimp and simmer (uncovered), stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.
*I made the recipe exactly as written and we loved it!
*Served with basmati rice and a chopped salad of cucumber, tomato, onion, parsley, and lemon/olive oil dressing, this meal was perfection.
*I’m not a fan of food that’s too spicy-hot (with ingredients like chilies), but I thought the natural sweetness from onion and unsweetened coconut milk (which still has quite a bit of natural sweet flavor) balanced the heat in this dish perfectly.
The Best of Gourmet 1998: Featuring the Flavors of India, Random House, Copyright 1998
This was a fantastic curry! Many Indian curries I’ve had make good (and plentiful!) use of curry powder, so I really enjoyed the fact that this one was a little different and didn’t call for it at all. Instead, it was perfectly balanced and very flavorful with a few fresh ingredients (garlic, ginger, and chilies) in addition to a few individual spices instead of a pre-made mix (ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves), which are likely to be found in just about any well-stocked pantry.
Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?
Yes! It was a wonderful curry, one I will definitely be making again, and probably soon. This is the sort of meal that is filling without being too heavy, so I think of it as all-season food.