Priyanka’s Shrimp

From 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer

Sarah Priyanka Shrimp

I already had a bag of dried guajillo chiles from Penzey’s hanging out in my freezer, so when I spotted the recipe for PRIYANKA’S SHRIMP in Raghavan Iyer’s vibrant book 660 Curries, I knew I’d found my next blog-post subject.

Shrimp are tasty and quick cooking—perfect for weeknight meals. They’ve gotten some bad press for being high in cholesterol, but it turns out that their unhealthy reputation is wholly undeserved. If you can, spring for domestic, not imported, shrimp. For both wild-caught and farmed varieties, U.S. producers must adhere to stricter environmental standards than their counterparts in other countries. (For all you need to know about the sustainability of shrimp and other seafood, check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Guide.)

This recipe is a snap to make, but its flavors are captivating and complex. It is rich and smoky (but barely spicy) from the guajillos and assertively garlickly, with an undercurrent of sweetness from the caramelized onions and coconut. Served with aromatic basmati rice, PRIYANKA’S SHRIMP is a delicious and out-of-the-ordinary mid-week dinner.


4 dried guajillo chiles, stems removed
¼ cup shredded fresh coconut; or 2 tablespoons shredded dried unsweetened coconut, reconstituted
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon tamarind paste or concentrate
4 medium-size cloves garlic
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 pound large shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined but tails left on
1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves

1.) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chiles and toast them, shaking the pan frequently and turning them over occasionally so that all sides turn a darker shade of red, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a blender jar and pour in ½ cup water. Add the coconut, coriander seeds, tamarind paste, and garlic. Puree, scraping the inside of the jar as needed, to make a thick, reddish-brown paste, packed with gusto.

2.) Heat the oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover the skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and turns caramel-brown with a deep purple hue, 15 to 20 minutes.

3.) Add the paste to the skillet, and then add the shrimp and salt. Stir once or twice. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are salmon-orange, curled, and tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

4.) Sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

Note: To reconstitute coconut, cover with 2 tablespoons boiling water, set aside for about 15 minutes, and then drain.

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