It was my friend Elizabeth’s birthday yesterday, and she wanted me to cook her dinner. She had asked for shrimp curry. Easy-peasy. A curry is just something cooked in a spicy sauce. I did make her a “shrimp curry”, in the form of Shrimp Vindaloo, but I also made a whole feast to accompany the Shrimp Vindaloo too. The cookbook I used had a list of menu suggestions to go with the Shrimp Vindaloo, so I made them all. We had Shrimp Vindaloo, tomato and onion salad, green beans Thoren, potatoes and bell peppers, rice and banana, coconut and cardamom samosas over ice cream for dessert.
Let’s start with the Shrimp Vindaloo, since that was the requested menu item for this special occasion. Elizabeth had no idea I was preparing the rest of the suggested menu items to turn the meal into a feast.
Vindaloo is a traditional recipe of the Catholic community of Goa, an Indian state on the country’s southwestern coast. However, its origins lie 5,500 miles (8,850km) to the west, in Portugal, from where an earlier variant of the dish made its way to Goa with Portuguese explorers in the early 15th century. Vindaloo, like curry, is a way of cooking foods in a spicy, often fiery sauce. Vindaloo is one of endless possibilities of delicious curry dishes. It can be vegetarian or made with chicken, pork, lamb, beef or seafood. The word vindaloo is a garbled pronunciation of the popular Portuguese dish carne de vinha d’alhos (meat marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic), which made its way to India in the 15th century along with Portuguese explorers. Vindaloo foods are a combination of Portuguese, Goan and Southern Indian influences. Vindaloo is a blend of chilis, tamarind, ginger, cumin, and mustard seeds, and spices originally from Goa. As with anything, there is NEVER just one version. There are endless possibilities everywhere you can find Indian foods.
The Spice Mixture
6 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon nibs or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground mustard or mustard seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
Mix all the spices together and set aside.
2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups onion, sliced very thin
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp garlic
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup coconut milk
2-3 chilis, either Serrano, jalapeno or Thai chilies are fine. it just depends on the level of heat you are looking for.
1/4 cup water, or more as needed
chopped cilantro for topping
In a very hot skillet, add the oil, the onions and the peppers and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp are completely pink and are thoroughly cooked.
Add the spice mixture, vinegar, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and coconut milk and combine thoroughly. Cook for about 3-5 minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Once the Vindaloo was ready to serve, we topped it with chopped cilantro and served it over the rice, with everything else on the side.
I encouraged Elizabeth to taste her dish to make sure all the spices were just right. I do this for everyone. Because after all, you have to like what you are cooking if you are going to eat it.
Elizabeth was very pleased with her birthday Indian feast.
Happy Birthday my friend, with many more to come.
Stay happy, healthy, safe and well. ‘Til next time.