Many conversations I have with my mother center around food these days. She takes great pleasure in reminding me that as a child I refused to eat anything but shrimp or Heinz tomato soup. This is how she would cook the shrimp - with a bit of garlic and a few black mustard seeds, which are one of the most regularly used spices in Gujarati cooking. Throwing the seeds into hot oil right at the start of cooking causes them to pop, like popcorn, which releases their nutty, mustardy flavors and adds a lovely gentle heat.
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 fresh curry leaves (optional)
- 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 fresh red chili, very finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 11 ounces jumbo shrimp, shelled
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 scallions, very finely sliced, to garnish
Crush a teaspoon of the mustard seeds in a mortar and pestle until the black skins split to reveal their yellow insides. Put a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat and, when it's nice and hot, add the butter. When the butter foams, add a teaspoon of the whole mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. This should happen after around 20 seconds in a hot pan; if not, move on, as you don't want them to burn and taste bitter.
Add the curry leaves if you are using them and the garlic and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Now add the cracked mustard seeds, the salt, chili powder, red chili, and turmeric to the pan and stir-fry for a few seconds. Add the shrimp and stir. It should only take a minute or so for them to turn pink; as soon as they do, take them off the heat.
Squeeze the lemon over the shrimp and garnish with the scallions. Eat with rice or chapatis and a hearty salad.
Recipes reprinted from Made in India. Copyright ©2015 by Meera Sodha. Photographs by David Loftus. Published by Flatiron Books.