Maybe it was that rather ascetic dinner of red peppers with quinoa and goat cheese. Or maybe it was because I was halfway through Michael Pollan’s new book In Defense of Food, and I was struck by his point that many of us are so confused about our diets that we have lost the pleasure in eating. Anyway, all I’m trying to say is that this weekend I wanted to make something rich, fun, and exotic for dinner. And I satisfied that craving with a Goan-Style Shrimp Curry recipe from the New York Times’ One Pot column.
The recipe is adapted from chefs Suvir Saran and Hemant Mathur of Devi, an Indian restaurant on 18th Street in Manhattan. I’ve never been there, but after making this amazing curry, I’m definitely putting Devi on my list of restaurants to visit.
A historic city located on the west coast of India, Old Goa was the capital of Portugal’s once vast Indian empire from 1510 until the 1960s. It is located in Goa, India’s smallest state. Because of its proximity to the sea, it enjoys an abundance of fresh seafood; fish curry is one of the area’s most popular dishes. Goa’s cuisine is often strongly flavored with coconuts, red chilies, and vinegar.
The New York Times recipe uses two out of these three ingredients. A tomato-based sauce is quickly simmered with smoky red chilies, fragrant coriander, turmeric, curry, and fresh ginger to impart a mild, mysterious heat. Sweet, rich coconut milk tempers that warmth and slowly creates a gorgeous pink hue as it joins the tomatoes in the pot. A handful of chopped cilantro at the end adds a welcome breath of freshness.
I followed the recipe and used solely shrimp in the sauce, but this curry would work well with a myriad of food combinations, including vegetables, lobster, or scallops. Served over an ample portion of brown rice, my seafood stew emitted hints of warm chili in one bite, the strong presence of ginger in the next.
In the small article accompanying the recipe, Saran recounts how he discovered this addictive dish a few years ago while visiting friends in Old Goa. My most memorable meals are often ones that I have cooked and shared with friends and family. I’m starting to think that it’s the best way to put the pleasure back into eating, whether cooking with quinoa or coconut milk. I’ll have to see if Michael Pollan agrees in the second half of his book.