Madhur Jaffrey's Shrimp Cooked With Coconut Milk

Cookbook legend and actress Madhur Jaffrey tempers curry leaves, along with fenugreek, mustard, and coriander seeds, as well as tamarind paste, garlic, chiles, fresh ginger, and a host of flavorful spices and aromatics to balance beautifully with thick coconut milk and shrimp in this South Indian curry.



  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoons whole fenugreek seeds

  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

  • 5 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

  • 1 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds

  • 10 to 15 fresh curry leaves

  • 1 medium onion, half length and thinly sliced crossing

  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slivers

  • 1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger

  • 1 3/4 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons red paprika

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 fresh chilies (the cayenne type)

  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (or 2 teaspoons lemon juice)

  • 1 3/4 cups fresh thick coconut milk (or canned unsweetened coconut milk)

  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled


  1. Heat a small cast-iron frying pan over moderate heat. When hot, put the coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds and peppercorns and stir for about a minute or until they are lightly toasted. Remove from the heat. Place toasted seeds into a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder and grind as finely as possible.

  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and as soon as they begin to pop after a matter of seconds, add the curry leaves. Stir once and add the onion and garlic and stir until lightly browned. Add the ginger. Stir and cook for another few seconds. Now add the water, paprika, cayenne, turmeric, salt, chiles and the tamarind paste and bring to a boil. Lowering the heat to moderate and simmer vigorously for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

  3. Five minutes before serving, heat the sauce over a fairly high flame. As soon as it begins to bubble, add the shrimp and stir until they begin to turn opaque. Stir the coconut milk add it to the pan, stirring constantly. When the coconut milk is heated through and the first bubbles begin to appear, turn off the heat and serve.

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