Have you ever gone to the market and bought something just because it looked interesting ? And you had no clue what to do with it? I saw some green lipped mussels and bought them on an impulse because they looked promising. Perhaps a paella? But no, I don’t have a paella pan.
Why is it that I can make a shopping list before I head out to the market but end up with items that I never intended to buy? Not sure about you but I never stick to my shopping lists and yet I continue to make them. Well, so I bought mussels and had no clue how to clean them or cook them and I was never a big fan of them. Eventually, I turned to Atul Kochhar’s “Atul’s Curries of the World” cookbook and I’m glad I’d bought those mussels and cooked them in this lip-smackingly good seafood curry. The result was a pleasant surprise as it was a mild coconut milk-based curry which would work with any seafood. His original recipe was for lobster and Atul had originally eaten a crayfish version of it in Kerala.
Keralan Seafood Curry
( Adapted slightly from Atul Kochhar’s ‘Atul’s Curries of the World’ )
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
- 12 curry leaves
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped/grated
- 1 tsp garlic, finely chopped/grated
- 2 green chillies, slit open
- 1 dried red chilli
- 1/2 tsp ground paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- a pinch of ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp water (for ground spices)
- 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tbsp tamarind water*
- 100 ml water
- 500 ml coconut milk or 250 ml of coconut cream, diluted
- 400 g fresh seafood (I used mussels, tiger prawns and cuttlefish)
- all the shells and prawn heads from your prawns**
For the tempering
- 2 tbsp ghee / coconut oil
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 green chillies, slit
- 5-6 curry leaves
I doubled the quantities of everything as I had about 900g of seafood.
Make sure you wash your mussels thoroughly and remove their beards before using them or you could get your fishmonger to do that for a few extra dollars.
*For tamarind water, break up about 200g of dried tamarind and mix with about 400ml of warm water. With your fingers, mix the tamarind and water until the pulp dissolves and the seeds remain. Strain tamarind juice with a sieve and discard the seeds. If using tamarind paste, use 1 tbsp of tamarind paste and dissolve in 2 tbsp water. Adjust salt in dish accordingly as salt is added to most bottled tamarind paste.
** Wash the prawns thoroughly before shelling and deveining prawns. Keep the shells and the prawn heads as all the prawny flavour is in those heads and shells.
Heat vegetable oil in a medium wok / frying pan over medium heat. Saute prawn shells and heads until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove fried shells and heads and discard. Then, sauté the mustard seeds and curry leaves until fragrant and then add sliced onions. Saute onions for about 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Add the chopped ginger, garlic, green chillies and dried red chilli for a minute.
Add ground spices with about 2 tbsp of water and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute until the spices are cooked. Make sure the spices don’t burn. Add a little more water if spices start to brown. Add the chopped tomatoes, tamarind water and 100 ml of water and simmer until tomatoes soften and become pulpy.
Add the coconut milk and mussels and cook for about 5 minutes and then add prawns and cuttlefish. If using other type of seafood, add the seafood which takes the longer to cook first and then the rest. Season with salt.
In another small pan, heat the ghee / coconut oil and sauté shallots, green chillies, and curry leaves for about 30 seconds. Pour over cooked curry just before serving.
Serve with rice or crusty bread. Perfect with cold beer on a hot afternoon.
Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 1 day and reheated gently so as not to overcook the seafood.
This curry is so good that I ended up liking mussels. If you ever get to dine in Atul’s restaurant in London and meet him, make sure you convey to him about my love for his recipe. This curry also brought back wonderful memories of the many fantastic coconuty curries we had eaten in Kerala.