Normandy meets the Pondicherry of my post-post-colonial imagination in this improvised dish I made last night.
2 tablespoons of butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon of minced jalapeño
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 pinch of saffron (optional, I just couldn’t help myself)
1/2 teaspoon coarsely-ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
4 pods of cardamom
2 bay leaves
1 bag of live mussels
1 cup of dry cider (I used Cidre Bouché Brut Etienne Dupont, an unfiltered and unpasteurized cider from Normandy)
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup of crème fraîche, I suppose regular heavy cream would work too
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped parsley and/or cilantro for garnish
Clean the mussels and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sauté everything except the mussels and the liquids over medium heat until lightly browned. Take your time with this part to achieve a nice caramelization of the onions.
Add the mussels, cider and lemon juice and simmer until the mussels pop open. Stir in the crème fraîche and serve immediately with crusty bread (or, if you are hardcore, French fries) to soak up the sauce. To drink: the rest of the bottle of cider. Yum!
Serves two people as a main course, or 3 or 4 for an appetizer.