June 10, 2012

Into the makings of a keeper - Curried Shrimp in spicy coconut gravy

The birth of this recipe took place in my kitchen when one fine day being too fed up with the use of excessive spices and over-cooking of the delicate sea-food, I embarked on this mission to try something different. How different? I had no real clue. Completely enamored by the freshness of the shrimps lying in front of me, I was almost disheartened to recall that all tasty shrimp delicacies that I have had were almost always overpowered by the usage of spices and thick gravies. I,of course love those curries, stir fries and fried shrimps but I bet u know the days when you crave for some freshness!

While pondering over the innumerous ways to play with the delicate shrimps, my thoughts went straight to the neglected can of coconut milk sitting in the pantry for ages. Ok not ages..but yeah for quite some time actually. So now driven by the strong desire of using that can of coconut milk, I took on this mission to create something driven by my own changing tastes.

The inertia  and of course the lack of ideas for various ways of using coconut milk stems from the fact that growing up, there was not much use of coconut milk in my mom's pantry. Freshly grated coconut has many uses in my mom’s kitchen but that’s not quite the case with coconut milk. So this dish is primarily inspired by Thai shrimp curries made with authentic Thai flavoring agents and my quintessential ingredient of interest- the coconut milk.

Just to be clearer about my approach, I broke it down basically into the two following basic steps:

-    Dry roasting of the spices - For most of my basic culinary purposes, the "secret" curry powder made up by my Ma invariably fits the bill perfectly. I always make sure that from every trip back home, I get back some of her "secret" curry powder. So my first bet to changing up flavors, was roasting whole spices and making up some fresh spice mix. Dry roasting the spices over a slow flame releases the locked up aromatic oils that can very well be the start to any great dish.

-   Poaching - The second approach was to minimize the cooking time of the shrimps in the broth. So finalizing on slow poaching the shrimps in the coconut broth was possibly the best decision for the recipe.

After the basics, this recipe came together in practically no time at all. I decided to jazz it up a bit with slow roasting minced garlic,which is not an essential step. The end result was very soft, melt-in-the-mouth, creamy shrimp soaking in flavored and fragrant coconut milk gravy!

Without any further ado, here's the recipe:

Curried Shrimp in spicy coconut gravy

The tenderness of shrimp infused with a dry roasted Indian spice powder is the highlight of this delicacy which is poached to perfectness in a sweet n sour curried coconut gravy to provide the makings of a soupy meal.

Ingredients: (Serves: 3)

Shrimps - 12 nos (~ ½ lb)

For the dry roast:
Cumin seeds - 2 T
Whole black pepper - ½ tsp
Dried red chilies – 4-5 nos. (Depends on how spicy you would like it to be)
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece

Divide the dry roast powder as 1/4 +1/2 + 1/4 (approx.)

Coconut milk - 3/4th C
Turmeric powder - ½ tsp + ½ tsp (divided)
Red Chilli powder – ½ tsp (Optional)
Lemon juice – 1 T
Salt to taste

Oil for cooking – 2 T
Garlic – 6-7 cloves
Tomatoes (small) – 4 nos


  1. Dry roasting the spices – Dry roast all the spices over a low flame till fragrant (~ 3-5 mins).Wait for it to cool down, and then make a fine powder. If the chilies don’t make up a fine powder that’s ok, it adds to the texture.
  2. Wash and devein the shrimp. Marinate it with ¼th of the dry roast powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder and ½ tsp salt. Keep it refrigerated till ready to use.
  3. Heat up 2T of oil and add in the chopped garlic. Let it cook over a slow flame till garlic gets evenly browned (~ 6-8 mins).Then add in the chopped tomatoes. Cook it over high flame for 5 mins and then, add in 1/2 of the dry roast powder, turmeric powder and red chilli powder (if using).Cook the tomatoes for 5-7 mins till the oil floats over the spice mixture.
  4. Now, add in the coconut milk and the lemon juice.Simmer it for about 10 mins till the oil floats on the top.Then add in the marinating shrimps. Cook for about 5 mins till the shrimp turn pinkish in color.
  5. Sprinkle the last 1/4th of the dry roast for the freshness of spices.Turn off the stove and serve it with some steaming white rice or cilantro rice.

I decided to keep the head of the shrimp on for the recipe since it infuses the broth with a rich taste that adds further to the curry. You could very well opt out if you decide not to. Truly, this recipe is more about the nuances than about the steps. Little things to take care of here and there..and you are ready to have a small food trip in your mouth.

Hope you guys are having a great weekend!

P.s: I am sending this recipe to:
 - "Guest Quest" hosted by Amina
 -  "This recipes goes to Sara's Event Cooking with Love Series hosted at Torviewtoronto". 
-  "Spotlight: Curries and gravies" hosted by Chandrani and Indrani.
 - "30 minute meals" hosted by Srivalli 
-  " Seafood feast" hosted by Usha.


  1. thank you for linking these flavourful shrimp curry to the event

  2. we have to cook together sometime and I am sure I am going to learn a lot from you --priyanka

  3. Wow, really tempting click and recipe, Jagruti..thanks for linking it to my event, Spotlight

  4. Hi Jagruti, Glad to find your blog :)
    really curry looks very delicious n mouth watering :)
    A perfect combination dear:)

  5. My MIL use to cook shrimp curry with the head on and until tasted her curry, I never knew it shrimp head tastes so good. I am sure the head in this curry tasted awesome as well. Thanks for sharing the recipe and sending it to my seafood event.


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