I am so happy to welcome the very talented food writer and chef Barb Freda to a Life of Spice. She tackled the cover dish from Modern Spice. See what you think —
Guest Post – Barb Freda –
Have I failed? By the look on my husband’s face, no. He loves the pomegranate shrimp I’ve just made. It’s the cover shot/recipe from Monica Bhide’s new book, Modern Spice. I’ll give my version great marks for looks. In fact, it’s so pretty, I want to make it for Christmas. Right away. Again.
But I couldn’t find curry leaves. I was not near my usual Indian grocer (I had leaves on my mind when I last visited, but walked out with so many other things…instead of curry leaves, apparently). So I pulled out my trusty GPS and found the closest Asian market. Very Chinese market. And they didn’t carry them.
For the record, I love curry leaves. I know they are one of the ingredients in so many of the dishes I love. Why can’t I find them more easily?
Nevermind. I was not to be put off making pomegranate shrimp this time. (You do not want to hear how I was ready to make it about a month ago and let a pound of shrimp fester in the fridge because Gary was out of town and Bryn won’t eat shrimp.) I’ll buy a big bunch of curry leaves next time…and make note of where I’ve gotten them and make sure I always have an ample supply.
Anyway, the ease of this dish entirely belies the depth of flavor. That pomegranate molasses I’ve had in the cupboard AND NEVER USED? That is a treat of sweet and sour and savory all at once—a combo that always gets my mouth watering. Into that, I stirred turmeric, coriander, red pepper flakes and garlic. In an attempt to gussy up the dish, I added chopped flat-leaf parsley, which does give a nice note to the dish (is it okay if I call that note grassy/lemony/bright? How else to describe parsley?) Toss the shrimp with all of the above. I got some rice going, cooked onions (not shallots) and bay leaves (oh, right. That was another attempt at finding complexity of flavor—I used fresh bay leaves in place of the curry leaves) then added the shrimp. Took it off the heat, sprinkled fresh pomegranate seeds over all and even served it right from the cooking skillet.
Truth? Shelling the durn shrimp took longer that prepping and cooking the dish. And what a hit. Served with the rice and a green salad chock full of herbs?
The whole of Modern Spice continues to entice me with great recipes. Monica has a new classic on her hands if you ask me.