Monday, November 23, 2009

Aloo Posto & Prawn Malai Curry

(Potatoes with Poppyseeds and Creamy Shrimp Curry)

This meal was delightful!  The shrimp curry was really awesome---believe me!  I don't even like shrimp and this has quickly become one of my favorite curries to make.  This meal is traditionally Bengali, or so I have been told.  India is much like the United States in the fact that cuisine varies from region to region.  For example, if you order pizza in Chicago it won't be the same as pizza in Texas, or New York.  It's the same in India.  If you order a dish in the east, chances are very likely it won't be anything like the dishes in the south. 

Most Americans are used to eatting North Indian Dishes; dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala (which is actually British, although I guess this may be argued), Rogan Josh, Mutter Paneer and Chicken Briyani.  My husband was raised in Mumbai, so I'm sure there will be a few Maharashtrian dishes such as Pohe and Pav Bhaji making appearances on my blog. 

Aloo Posto
  • 4 Tablespoons Indian Poppyseeds (these are white in color)
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 tbsps vegetable/ canola/ sunflower/olive cooking oil (I usually use much less, use what you are comfortable with)
  • 2 green chillies slit lengthwise and deseeded ---This will just give the dish flavor and not much heat.  I usually leave the seeds in and chop the chiles up.
  • Salt to taste.

1. Put the poppyseeds (postu) in a bowl and add enough warm water to cover it completely. Soak for 5 minutes. Now grind in a food processor or with a stick blender to get a smooth paste. You can also use a mortar and pestle as it is done traditionally but it takes time and effort! Keep postu paste aside for late use. This step is hard.  I actually recommend using a coffee or spice grinder.  Keep some water in with the seeds though so that your end product is a paste.

2.  Meanwhile, boil the diced potatoes until they are almost cooked.  You don't want to cook them all the way, because you will be frying them later.  You could also steam the potatoes if you'd like, although this won't yeild a traditional aloo postu, or so my husband said when he realized I decided to steam them.  They turn out just fine though! :-)

3. Heat the cooking oil in a pan on medium heat. When hot, add the slit green chillies. To make the dish hotter you can grind the green chillies to a paste. If using whole green chillies, wait for the spluttering to stop after adding them to the hot oil. When this happens, add the diced potatoes to the pan. Stir fry until fully cooked. Add salt to taste. You might need to sprinkle some water over them as they cook, to prevent burning or sticking to the pan.
4. When the potato is cooked (soft), turn off the heat and add the postu paste and stir well. Spoon into a dish and serve.

This is really an easy dish to make.  It doesn't really strike me as something I would make when someone requests Indian food, but let me tell packs a lot of flavor.  I'm sure if you tried it, you'd like it!
Shrimp Malai Curry
  • 1 lb. large shrimp
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons oil, or to your judgement
  • 3/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves (I grind mine before throwing them in, but you can leave them whole)
  • 7 cardamom pods
  • 5 Indian bay leaves (I have used regular bay leaves, and those work fine as well)
  • 3/4 inch piece of ginger, grated or about 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped or about 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder - be careful with this.  I put this in to taste.
  • 3/4 cup lite coconut milk - skim the "cream" off the top and use that, preferably.  It will make the dish taste more authentic.

1. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails intact.  Or, be lazy like me...go to Sam's Club and buy a giant bag of precooked shrimp where all that work is already done for you.  Put them in a bowl, add the lemon juice, then toss them together and leave them sit for around 5 minutes.  Rinse the Shrimp under cold water and pat dry.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and fry the onion until lightly browned.  Add the turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves, ginger and garlic and fry until fragrant.  About one minute, or so.  Add the chili powder, coconut milk and salt to taste and slowly bring to a boil. 

3. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 2 minutes.  Add the shrimpies and return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the shrimp are cooked through and the sauce is thick.  

Usually after I have added my shrimp I let it simmer for around 15-20 minutes and just kind of forget about it.  It needs some time for the flavors to blend and for the sauce or "gravy" to thicken.  This curry is wonderful.  I honestly don't like shrimp.  I am 25 years old, so it has taken me a quarter of a century to find a recipe that makes shrimp taste yummy to me.  I promise, you'll LOVE this curry! 

One of the most important tips I've learned about cooking Indian food is that you really have to taste your food as you cook it.  The levels of spices can either make or break a recipe and what tastes good to one person can be overwhelming to the next.  Be careful when adding chili powder, salt and yogurt to recipes.  Those are the three ingredients that tend to mess with my food on occasion. 

I hope some of you enjoy these recipes as much as I did!  Let me know if you try them and how they turned out, I'd love to hear if you tried anything differently or if you have your own take on these recipes!

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