Monday, March 29, 2010

Shrimp Curry, Cape Malay-Style

South Africa is famous, among other things, for its "Old Cape" or "Cape Malay" cooking. In preparation for the southern African cooking class this March, I met with Gabeba Baderoon, a South African poet teaching at Penn State, for advice on how to prepare a curry similar to the wonderful ones I remember from Cape Town. She sat down with me and 3 of her favorite cookbooks and shared some of her knowledge. (She also promised to get me copies of all 3 cookbooks this May when she visits home!) I settled on an adaptation of a crayfish curry (we substituted jumbo wild-caught shrimp) from Faldela Williams' The Cape Malay Cookbook for the class, and it was very popular.  The recipe calls for fish masala, so I purchased a couple of different kinds from our local international and Indian markets--the one we ended up using was "MDH fish curry masala,"  a mixture of coriander, chilli, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek leaves, salt, black pepper, bishop's weed, dry mango, dry ginger, mustard, pulse, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, caraway, cardamom seeds, mace, and asofoetida. This recipe is simple to prepare--the slowest part was cleaning and deveining the shrimp.

Cape Malay-style Shrimp (or crayfish) Curry
2 pounds  large, wild-caught shrimp (or 2 pounds of crayfish tails, in shells, or one large crayfish)
1/4 cup sunflower oil (or other vegetable oil)
2 large onions, thinly sliced (at least 2 cups)
2 ripe tomatoes, skinned and puréed (could probably substitute canned)
1 green bell pepper, seeded and puréed
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 tsp crushed dried chili pepper
1 tsp turmeric
      2 tsp fish masala
     1 tsp ground cumin
                              1 Tablespoon lemon juice
                              1 tsp sugar
                              1 tsp salt

If using shrimp, remove shells and devein. Rinse and set aside.  (If using whole crayfish, wash well, wemove legs and tail, and set aside. If using small crayfish, leave shells on). Slice the onions and prepare the tomatoes, green pepper and garlic. Fry the onions on medium heat until golden, about 5-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, green pepper, garlic and dried crushed chili pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Make a paste from the cumin, fish masala, turmeric, lemon juice, sugar and salt (add a little water if necessary) and cook until the gravy thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the shrimp (or crayfish) and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.

We served this wonderful curry with basmati rice.

The 2 other cookbooks Gabeba recommended are Cass Abrahams Cooks Cape Malay--Food From Africa and Zainab Lagardien's Everyday Cape Malay Cooking. The photos alone in these books will set your mouth watering

1 comment:

Nabia said...

I had no idea that Indian spice mixes were popular in this cuisine :-)
I guess I can see the similarities between the two. Great blog BTW I have been meaning to try something African your blog inspires me to do that soon. Great looking food!