50 Women Game-Changers in Food - #7 Madhur Jaffrey - Prawn Curry

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The weeks are rolling by, and the group of bloggers who are working their way through the Gourmet Live list of 50 Women Game-Changers in food, are focusing on the recipes of Madhur Jaffrey for the week. If Julia Child and Marcella Hazan are credited with bringing French and Italian food to the American table, Madhur Jaffrey must also be recognized for introducing the American and British public to the best of the food from her beloved India. She is a noted chef and expert in Indian cuisine, but, interestingly, she had not planned on a career as a food writer or teacher. When she was 19 years old, she left her home in India to study at England's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She didn't like the food the college provided for its students and there were few Indian restaurants in London where she could satisfy her craving for good Indian food. She began to cook because she wanted to recreate the food of her childhood. With the help of her mother, who sent letters containing advice and recipes, she began to cook the simpler of the dishes she remembered. She became an actress of note, but when Craig Claiborne ran a story about her in the New York Times, she also became known for her cooking and writing skills. She considered her cooking career to be accidental, but she took it as seriously as she did her work in the theater. She has, to date, written 15 cookbooks and one memoir. That's mighty serious.

I've chosen a light but spicy shrimp dish to represent her cooking. The preparation comes from Southern India, and, while it's delicious, it is spiced with a quantity of cayenne pepper that may be too much for some palates. While purists will be unhappy, I suggest that those of you who have a low heat tolerance cut way back on the amount of cayenne used to make this dish. I've found that 1/4 teaspoon is perfect for those not familiar with the fire of some Indian dishes. I also recommend that you toast the coriander and cumin seeds that are used in the recipe. While it certainly is not necessary, straining the sauce before adding the shrimp makes for a more attractive presentation. This is a lovely curry. I hope that you will give it a try. Here's the recipe as it was written by Madhur Jaffrey.

Prawn Curry
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Madhur Jaffrey

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon red paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 (14-1/2 ounces) can coconut milk, well stirred
3/4 teaspoon salt or salt to taste
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 pound peeled and deveined medium-sized uncooked prawns (shrimp)

1) In a large saucepan, combine 1-1/4 cups water with the cayenne pepper, paprika, turmeric, garlic and ginger. Mix well. Grind the coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a clean coffee grinder and add to mixture.
2) Bring the spice mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and is reduced somewhat.
3) Add the coconut milk, salt, and tamarind paste, and bring to a simmer.
4) Add the prawns (shrimp) and simmer, stirring occasionally, until they turn opaque and are just cooked through. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as required to taste. Serve while hot. Yield: 4 servings.

The following bloggers are also paying tribute to Madhur Jaffrey this week. I hope you'll visit all of them.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets
Katie - Making Michael Poland Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island

Next week we will highlight the food and recipes of Judith Jones. If you'd like to join us please email me for additional information. Everyone is welcome.