Ever since my friend, Abinash John, posted a picture of a Kerala style spicy shrimp curry on his Instagram profile a few months ago, I couldn't get it out of my mind. It looked so good that I could almost taste it. He gave me the recipe and I finally decided to try it out.
Most of the spices used are ones that I use regularly and am familiar with. However, this was my first time using the spice "Kokum." It is used to add tartness to a dish, sometimes as a substitute for tamarind. It comes in a dried form, and you have to soak it in a little water for about 30 minutes, and you can then use the water and you can also add the soaked Kokum into your curry sauce to keep enhancing the tart flavor.
This recipe can be made very spicy or you can keep it mild - totally depends on your taste. Either way it tastes great. Anywhere in the recipe where there is a spicy ingredient listed, I have put optional next to it.
Medium onions - 2 (diced)
Medium tomatoes - 2 (diced)
Green chilis - 3 (optional)
Shallots - 5 (small)
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 1/2 to 1 tsp (optional)
Coriander powder - 2 teaspoons
Ginger - 2 teaspoons (grated)
Garlic - 2 teaspoons (crushed or minced)
I lb shrimp (deveined and shells removed)
Kokum - 4-5
Dried Fenugreek leaves - 1 tablespoon
Cilantro - 1/4 cup chopped
Oil - 4 tablespoons
Salt - to taste
Step 1 - Marination of the shrimp
Place the shrimp in a large bowl and add in 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ginger and 1 teaspoon of garlic. Mix well and set it aside.
Step 2 - Soaking the Kokum
Take the Kokum and place it in small bowl with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup water and let it soak for about 30 minutes.
Step 3 - Preparing the curry paste
In a large pan add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat for a minute on medium-high. Add in the chopped onions and 2 green chillis (optional) and sautè for about 8-10 minutes or until the onions are a nice reddish brown. Then add in 1 chopped tomato, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (optional), 2 teaspoons of coriander powder and a pinch of salt. Sautè for another 5 to 6 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and mushy. (If the tomato dries up and the spices start sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a little water and continue stirring. Once done, transfer the curry paste to a small bowl.
Step 4 - Preparing the final shrimp curry
In the same large pan where you made the curry paste, add another 2 tablespoons of oil. Heat for a minute and then add in the sliced shallots and 1 green chilli and sautè for about 5 minutes or until the shallots are soft and golden brown. Mix in 1 teaspoon of ginger and 1 teaspoon of garlic, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon salt and mix well. Then add the second chopped tomato, mix well and cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes on low. As mentioned earlier, if the tomato dries up and the spices start sticking to the bottom of the pan, simply add a little water and stir.
Remove the lid and add in the marinated shrimp and mix well. Then add the curry paste to the mixture. Add about 1 cup of water, cover lid and let it cook for about 5 minutes.
Finally, add in the kokum water (and the kokum if you want it tangier) and sprinkle the fenugreek leaves. Mix well. Cover the pot and let it cook for about 15 minutes on medium-low heat.
Remove lid, check for salt. Sprinkle some chopped cilantro as garnish if you like and serve hot with rice.