Monday, October 26, 2009

Prawns in coconut

Prawns in Coconut Masala

By Vikram Vij & Meeru Dhalwala

This recipe can be served as an appetizer or passed around with drinks. On its own, the masala goes well with naan or rice. You can substitute canola oil for the ghee in this recipe but remember that you will lose some flavour. Don’t substitute butter. It is difficult to cook cumin seeds alone in butter, as you need to keep the heat relatively high and the butter ends up burning and sticking to the bottom of your pot. Also, use a good-quality coconut milk. If we can’t source any wild prawns, we use prawns farmed in the U.S., specifically California, rather than Asian-farmed tiger prawns. The farming practices of many tiger prawn farms in Asia are considered highly questionable by organizations monitoring healthy and/or sustainable seafoods. Prawns cook very quickly – 2 to 3 minutes on average – so watch them closely to avoid
overcooking them.

Serves 6

30 prawns, shelled and deveined
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp ghee or canola oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 large onions, chopped
3 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
2 Tbsp coconut milk, stirred
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp chopped green chilies
3 bunches green onions, white and green parts, chopped

Place prawns in a colander and rinse under cold water. Allow excess water to drain. In a bowl, combine prawns and 1 tsp of the salt. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator while you are making the coconut masala.

In a large frying pan, melt ghee on medium-high heat (or heat oil for 1 minute). Add cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for 30 seconds. Add onions and sauté 5 to 8 minutes, or until dark brown but not burned. Stir in tomatoes, coconut milk, vinegar, chilies and the remaining 1 tsp of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes are cooked through. Add green onions and stir well. Add prawns, stirring constantly until they become pinkish-orange. This will take about 3 minutes.

Immediately remove from the heat.

To Serve: Place 5 prawns on each of six small shallow plates. Top each serving with one-sixth of the coconut masala. Alternatively, divide the coconut masala evenly among six small shallow plates, then top with 5 prawns per plate.

Wine: A Pouilly-Fumé or Sancerre wine is a great sipping wine with this masala.

Chicken Curry

Vij Family's Chicken Curry

½ cup canola oil
2 cups finely chopped onions (2 large)
3-inch stick of cinnamon
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3 pounds chicken thighs, bone in
1 cup sour cream, stirred
2 cups water
½ cup chopped cilantro (including stems)

In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat for one minute. Add onions and cinnamon, and sauté for five to eight minutes, until onions are golden. Add garlic and sauté for four more minutes. Add ginger, tomatoes, salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala and cayenne. Cook this masala for five minutes, until the oil separates.

Remove and discard skin from the chicken thighs. Wash thighs and add to the masala. Stir well. Cook chicken thighs for 10 minutes, until the chicken looks cooked on the outside. Add sour cream and water and stir well. Increase the heat to medium-high. When curry starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring two or three times, until chicken is completely cooked. Poke the thighs with a knife. If the meat is still pink, cook for five more minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Cool curry for at least half an hour.

Transfer cooked chicken to a mixing bowl. Wearing latex gloves, peel chicken meat off the bones. Discard bones and stir chicken back into the curry. Just before serving, heat curry on medium heat until it starts to boil lightly. Stir in cilantro.

Divide curry evenly among six bowls. Serves 6

Notes: Dark meat with the bone in makes for heartier stock and allows the chicken to simmer in its own juices. Serve with naan or rice.

Wine: A Spanish Tempranillo with good fruit and balanced tannins is a great complement to this curry.

Garam Masala

1 heaping teaspoon whole cloves
1 ½ teaspoon black cardamom seeds (about 10 whole pods)
6 heaping tablespoons cumin seed
1 tablespoon pounded cinnamon sticks
¼ teaspoon ground mace
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Turn on your stovetop exhaust fan. In a heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat cloves, black cardamom seeds, cumin, and cinnamon on medium to high heat, stirring constantly. When the cumin seeds become a darker shade of brown, remove from stove. Transfer the roasted spices to a bowl and cool for 20 minutes.
Place roasted spices, mace and nutmeg in a spice (or coffee) grinder and grind until the mixture has the consistency of store-bought ground black pepper. May be used right away. Will also keep in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Makes ¾ cup