Wonderful Curry from Jamaica

The weather is getting cooler, and comfort food is most definitely on the horizon. Business also slows down this time of the year and I find I have more time on my hands then I care for.  I also find it difficult to cook for two, as I had too many years of cooking for a family. I am not one for leftovers, so the portions get bigger and bigger. So what can we do to keep fall and winter from becoming blimp season? Cook? Yes, cook. But let’s start by getting a bit more creative. You may wonder how being creative helps to keep the portions under control. Well, I may not like it so I really don’t want a week’s worth in the refrigerator.So, how about if we make something that onlytakesminutes to prepare. Now back to cooler weather and comfort food. I wanted Shrimp Curry, really what I wanted is the shrimp curry my father made in the 50’s and 60’s that seemed so worldly to a young boy. Yellow curry, that stuff from the spice isle.  On second thought, I can do better than that. Okay, lets make Shrimp Curry, but kick it up a notch. Most curry dishes are a breeze to make, really nothing to them and can be made in the time it takes to cook the rice. So how are we going to kick it up? Lets start by deciding what part of the world we are going to be dining, that will tell us more about our curry mix, How about Jamaica? Okay, that means a curry with a bite to it.
If you want really good curry, never go to the spice isle for a bottle of Shillings or McCormick’s curry. Get your Masala box out and start mixing, after all, all kitchens have a Masala box, don’t they? For those that are shaking their heads, wondering just what am I talking about.  Indian cooks have a spice box; this is either a large metal tin or carved wooded box filled with more tins or boxes filled with the individual spices used to build curries or masalas.
Curry is not a spice, but a blend of spices. We think of curry as being from India but native curry dishes can be found through the Caribbean, African coast, India and just about where ever ancient travelers and tradesmen ventured to in centuries gone by. At one time it was spice that was the universal currency, not gold and baubles. Well, maybe some silk as well. Back to dinner, there was shrimp in the freezer, some jasmine rice in the pantry and a door full of spices. A little later, after cruising the Internet I came up with a Jamaican Curry recipe that sounded good, all I was missing was some Fenugreek seeds. Darn, how could I not have had Fenugreek on hand, I’m sure you do. So my recipe from the net looked good, made it, and then started adjusting the spices till I got what appealed to me.
  • 2 teaspoons dry yellow mustard seeds
  • 3 teaspoons ground fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons All spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon  cayenne pepper
Combine all and grind in your spare coffee grinder. Yum. And its more than the 2 1/2 tablespoons I will be using. Now another spice tin, this one labeled Jamaican Curry, home made. Now for the dish itself.
  • 1 1/2 pound cleaned, shelled large shrimp
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 small red bell pepper finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons of your home made curry powder.
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat olive oil and add onions and garlic along with the curry powder.  Saute till the onion and garlic are translucent and have lost most of the water. Add the coconut milk, tomato paste and simmer mixture for 5 to 7 minutes, add stock or water till you have the liquid consistency desired. I prefer a thicker sauce if serving with rice, thinner is for when eating a soup or stew. Now add the shrimp and red bell pepper, and cook at a simmer another 5 minutes or until the shrimp is as you prefer, and do a quick final seasoning. I never mentioned salt as I don’t think this dish needs any salt added to it.
Serve over rice, or add rice on top. Both ways taste the same, just a different presentation, Enjoy. I would pair this dish with a nice beer or light ale.  
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