The Healing Power of Culinary Herbs: Shrimp with Coconut Milk, Chile and Curry Leaf

| August/September 2010

Serves 4

• 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 1⁄2 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
• 1⁄2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 2 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
• 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely minced
• 1 to 2 fresh green chiles, chopped and seeded
• 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
• 1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder
• 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
• Generous 1 cup canned low-fat coconut milk
• 1 pound jumbo shrimp, cooked and peeled (thawed and drained if frozen)
• 1 tablespoon tamarind juice or juice of 1⁄2 lime
• 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 10 to 12 fresh or dried curry leaves
1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot but not smoking, add mustard seeds, followed by fenugreek seeds and onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes until the onion is soft, but not brown. Add garlic, ginger and chiles and cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 5 to 6 minutes, until the onion is a light golden color.

2. Add coriander, turmeric and chili powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add salt and coconut milk, followed by shrimp and tamarind juice. Bring to a slow simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a very small saucepan over medium heat. Add pepper and curry leaves and cook for 20 to 25 seconds, then fold the aromatic oil into the shrimp mixture. Remove shrimp from the heat and serve immediately. 

Gina Mohammed, Ph.D., is a plant physiologist who researches medicinal and other specialty uses of plants. She lives in Ontario, Canada. Visit her at .

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