Malabar shrimp recipe from Julie Sahni [Moved from NAF]
Your Indian buffett sounds delicious. I was curious to know whose recipes you were using. I have a Malabar shrimp recipe from Julie Sahni which I make very often usually to appreciative audiences.
The dish that the kids seemed to be most impressed by was the Biryani. I make my own fried onions, my own Garam Masala and I had lots of fresh nuts and raisins in it. Plus, I always manage to get a really light and fluffy Biryani. It is one dish that is all about technique and adjusting as you go (is the rice still wet, or too dry for the baking? how deep is it in the bowl, etc . . .). I had one kid ask for the recipe and before I could appologise and say I really couldn't put it into words she said that she'd changed her mind because how could she ask her mother to use someone else's recipe!
For the shrimp though, I have Sahni's recipe and use it as a base. I adjust it quite a bit though. I usually don't cook from recipes -- I use them until I am familiar with a set of ingredients, techniques, and resulting flavours and then I only use them as rough suggestions.
My adjustments according to my notes (I will still play with it while cooking though):
replace red with regular onion for my richness.
triple the garlic to 1 Tbl.
double the mustard seed to 2 tsp.
add to the cumin seed, 1 tsp. of ground cumin.
add 2 tsp. ground coriander seed (I'll sometimes use whole seed -- it depends on how seedy you mind things).
add 1/4 cup (or more) cilantro as well as the 24 kari leaves.
add one red bell pepper sliced or chopped.
add shot of fish sauce instead of salt if needed -- as it adds a deeper seafood flavour.
Technique changes: add garlic after onions are browned to avoid bitterness. I also increase the shrimp without increasing the liquids depending on how I bought the shrimp (i.e. I'll use 2 frozen packages -- however much shrimp that is).
This might get moved to Home Cooking -- I don't know.
I use all of Sahni's books. The Malabar shrimp recipe is from the Introduction to Indian Cooking book. Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking is the one to have. The recipes are all spot on and she teaches you all the techniques you'll need whenever you cook Indian food. Very precise and everything is delicious. Atahualpa, thanks for the info on the Malabar shrimp recipe. I'll give the fish sauce a try.
I have Indian Regional Classics: Fast, Fresh, and Healthy Home Cooking by Sahni and one other that I can't find right now.
I also absolutely love Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. It has all sorts of fresh salads, pickles, and various street fares. It is a totally different window on Indian cuisine than almost any other book -- at least that I've seen. But, you wouldn't want it as your only Indian cookbook as it doesn't have recipes for most of the 'traditional' indian dishes that have become staples in the west. e.g. the is no saag, no rogan ghost, no makhani (butter chicken), no aloo gobi, etc. . .
by the way, if anyone wants to try this dish in the d.c. / northern virginia area today, at raaga indian restaurant, the very large buffet offering for the special valentine's day includes seafood malabar. we got to taste the sauce yesterday, as the chef was developing it. so subtle and delicious. very complex, but very harmonious -- not in your face coconut at all. (ps, chef used to be at bombay club in the clinton years).
i'm going to pull out my sahni cookbook, too, and make this dish.