I served this curry as the main course at my dinner party last night. It’s based on Jamie Oliver’s Southern Indian Crab Curry from his book Cook with Jamie. I kicked it up a notch (to borrow a term from another TV chef) by adding some fresh prawns and some Southeast Asian flavors like shrimp paste and lime leaves. That’s why I call it an “Indian Ocean” curry, because it’s food from an imaginary sunny island between India and South East Asia transported to a dreary, rainy island between the Hudson and East Rivers.
- olive oil
- 3 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 heaped teaspoons black mustard seeds
- 5 green cardamom pods, crushed and husks removed
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
- 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and finely sliced (2 jalapeños turned out pretty mild, I would put in 3 or 4 next time, but I’m evil)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste (get it at Bangkok Center Grocery or Kalustyan’s)
- 2 heaped teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of tamarind concentrate (Kalustyan’s again)
- 1 large pat of butter
- one 14-ounce can of coconut milk
- juice of 2 lemons or limes (I used 1 lemon and 2 limes)
- 2 lime leaves, stem removed and thinly sliced (Bangkok Center Grocery again)
- 1 pound of uncooked prawns, shelled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- one 1-pound can of crab meat
- fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
- 1 teaspoon of brown sugar or palm sugar (Or to taste. Bangkok Center Grocery and Kalustyan’s carry palm sugar)
- a few splashes of fish sauce
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat three splashes of olive oil in a large pan and add the fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cardamom, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, onion, jalapeños, and shrimp paste. Season with salt and pepper. Fry on medium heat for 4-5 minutes until lightly golden, then add the turmeric, butter, and tamarind.
After about 2 or 3 minutes, pour in the coconut milk and a can-full of water. Bring to a light boil and turn to low heat and simmer away for 5 minutes so. Then add the lemon/lime juice and lime leaves and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
Add the prawns and crab meat simmer for 4 minutes or until the prawns cook through, and taste. Season with salt and pepper and a little more lemon juice if you think it needs it. I also added a few splashes of fish sauce and a bit of sugar at this point.
Garnish with plenty of fresh cilantro and lemon or lime wedges if you like. Serve with some fluffy white rice (jasmine or basmati).