I'm so happy to report that I was selected to move past the first round in Foodbuzz's Project Food Blog and onto Challenge #2, where you can now vote for me in round 2 here. Thanks to everyone who voted for me and get ready for some copious begging this week for votes to launch me into round 3! And if you missed the first post that got me to Round 2, check it out here: Why me?
When I read that Challenge #2 would include cooking a classic ethnic dish, I immediately thought of one of my favorite cuisines - Indian.
While I'm a pro at ordering up naan, tandoori chicken and palak paneer, whipping up something like tikka makhani in my own apartment kitchen hasn't exactly been a weeknight staple. After all, Shaun and I live a few blocks away from Jersey City's Little India and the food is seriously authentic, so why bother whipping it up in my own apartment kitchen? But since I'm always up for a challenge, I concocted a shrimp curry dish that's upped the ante with the addition of some additional Southeast Asian flavors including coconut milk and bamboo shoots. Oh and I should mention that I have never cooked with these ingredients before. Until today.
Fragrant and extremely flavorful curry lightened up by the fresh flavor of coconut milk really pulls this dish together and keeps the strong curry at bay. The bamboo shoots add just the perfect bit of crunch while the shrimp is the meat of the dish, if you will. And if you're not of the shrimp eating nature, I could see this working just as deliciously by substituting veggies for the shrimp - fresh string beans and bell peppers would really shine here. But let's get down to the details, shall we?
Coconut Shrimp Curry
1 lb shrimp, cleaned, deveined and lightly cooked
1 onion, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 C Greek yogurt
1 can coconut milk, unsweetened
1 can bamboo shoots, drained
1 sprig basil, for garnish
For the rice:
1 C dry basmati rice, I used brown
2 C low sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
In a small saucepan, combine the rice, broth and butter and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes to soften (is there anything better than the smell of sauteeing onions? Nope, there isn’t). Add cinnamon sticks, bay leaf and garlic and cook for about a minute.
Add the curry powder, cumin and about half of the coconut milk.
Whisk together to get rid of the lumps with the stove on low heat. Stir in the Greek yogurt and bamboo shoots and add a bit more coconut milk. The mixture thickens very quickly, so I kept adding more coconut milk throughout the cooking time. Toss in the cooked shrimp.
(Note: if your mixture is too thick, you can add a tablespoon of water to thin it a bit).
Serve over a bed of basmati rice.
Since this dish can be a bit brown, I added a sprig of basil to keep it all looking fresh. In hindsight, white rice would have been best for presentation purposes, however, I was overjoyed that our local bodega had Basmati rice so I scooped it up! This dish can also pack a bit of a kick. If you want to tone it down, try halving the amount of curry powder. Doesn't it look good enough to eat? Admittedly I did devour this gorgeous meal...and it may or may not have been for breakfast. The result was nothing short of warm, delicious and pretty authentic to boot.
If you like what you see, please feel free to vote for me to advance to Round 3 of Project Food Blog! So what do you think? Have you ever tried whipping up something outside the realm of your comfort zone?