This meal arose from fenugreek greens, or, more precisely, my never-ending joy at ending up near(ish) a grocery store like Jungle Jim’s, where one can easily and regularly find fresh fenugreek greens. Because they are there, I feel compelled to continue trying them in Indian dishes, despite my admitted lukewarm feelings toward cooked greens. And so I bought them for an Indian potato curry, and decided, on a whim, to serve that with a more plainly cooked seafood dish.
Which is where these shrimp came in. They are unusual for us because I don’t think they really complement plain rice; they are not saucy enough. They are best eaten plain, as is, with a squirt of lime or lemon juice. But starch was already covered in the copious potatoes in the fenugreek curry (that recipe to come later), so I did not need a saucy dish.
These shrimp were splendid. Frankly I’d be shocked if my Indian-food-disliking family would not like them. Which is not to say that they are plain, but rather that the bulk of their flavor comes from ingredients that are familiar to Mexican food loving Americans, like cumin and lime/lemon juice. The mustard seeds and curry leaves add another dimension, to be sure, but nonetheless I would call these shrimp a good gateway dish.
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined but with tails left on
3/4 t cayenne or paprika
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t ground cumin
1 1/2 T fresh lemon or lime juice
1 1/2 T vegetable oil
1 t black/brown mustard seeds
6 fresh or 10 frozen curry leaves (I used frozen–Jungle Jim’s has those fresh too, but I keep them in the freezer where they last longer)
1/4 cup finely chopped scallion (I was out of but would use next time)
Additional lime/lemon wedges for serving
Rinse the shrimp and then pat them dry. In a bowl, sprinkle the cayenne/paprika, turmeric and cumin over them and toss. Then sprinkle them with the lemon/lime juice and toss again, to evenly distribute the juice and spices. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat with the vegetable oil in it. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves (stand back–those leaves will splatter!). After the mustard seeds finish popping, add the shrimp and fry them, stirring, for 30-60 seconds, until they are pink, opaque and curled. Do not overcook (I walked away and did just that, alas, but we still loved them). Add the finely chopped scallion, toss, and serve with lemon or lime wedges.