February 11, 2011

Shrimp Tikka Masala

Shrimp Tikka Masala is Juli's favorite Indian dish, and one of mine.  Sure, it's not a traditional Indian dish - most food historians agree it is a spin-off from Chicken Tikka Masala, which was created by a restaurant chef in London during the 1970s - but it certainly features lots of touches common to authentically Indian curries, plus it tastes great.  I've previously come up with a pretty good Chicken Tikka Masala recipe, but hadn't made the shrimp version of the dish until last weekend.  I figured it was about time.

In making a recipe for Shrimp Tikka Masala, I started with my Chicken Tikka Masala recipe (which I really should make again one of these days, and present on here), but also consulted some other recipes, including the Cook's Illustrated version of the dish.  I came up with a slightly different marinade for the shrimp than I use for Chicken Tikka Masala, but the biggest change was adapting my recipe from a grill recipe to one using the broiler.

The dish turned out great.  The broiled shrimp was nicely browned, even a bit crisp along the edges, but cooked just right on the inside.  The sauce was creamy, with just the slightest bit of bite thanks to the minced chili pepper.  Together, they made for a great mix of pleasant textures and flavors.  I served it along with the wonderful Vegetable Samosas I made on the same day, plus some naan.  All together, these made for a really, really nice lunch.

Last Saturday's Indian lunch: 
Naan, Shrimp Tikka Masala,
Vegetable Samosas, Tamarind-Date
Chutney and Mint Chutney
(plus ice water)

I have to admit that this version of Shrimp Tikka Masala isn't quite as good as the one served up at our favorite Indian restaurant, India Star - the sauce doesn't quite have the perfect balance of tomato and cream flavors - but it runs pretty close, and I think with some further fine-tuning, I will eventually be able to match their best.  Meanwhile, it's certainly good enough that I'll be making it again.

I'm presenting the recipe a bit differently than usual for me, labelling the various steps and making separate ingredient lists for the different components of the recipe.  If any of our readers prefers this style of presentation, or for the way I usually present recipes, please drop us a line and let us know.

Shrimp Tikka Masala

yield = 4 servings

Shrimp Tikka
1           cup plain yogurt
1           tablespoon lemon juice
1           tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2           teaspoons ground cumin
2           teaspoons minced garlic
1           teaspoon ground coriander
1           teaspoon table salt
1/2        teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2        teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2        teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2           pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined,
             tails removed

Masala Sauce
2           tablespoons vegetable oil
1           small onion, diced fine
1           serrano chili, seeded and minced
2           teaspoons minced garlic
2           teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1           tablespoon paprika
2           teaspoons garam masala
1           tablespoon tomato paste
1           small (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
2           teaspoons sugar
1/2        teaspoon table salt
1           cup heavy cream

1          teaspoon garam masala
1/4       cup chopped fresh cilantro

Marinate the Shrimp:
Add yogurt, lemon juice, ginger, cumin, garlic, coriander, salt, cinnamon, cayenne and black pepper to a large zipper-lock bag.  Mix thoroughly, then add the shrimp.  Seal bag, shake to coat and refrigerate.

Prepare Broiler:
Place a wire rack on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray.  Adjust oven rack so the wire rack will be about 3 inches from the heating element when baking sheet is placed in the oven.  Heat broiler for high broil.

Make the Masala Sauce
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about four minutes.  Add the chili and continue to cook until the onions turn a light golden-brown. Add garlic and ginger.  Cook another 30 seconds, then stir in paprika, garam masala and tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add tomato sauce, sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomato sauce has mostly cooked down (about 10 minutes).  Stir in cream and return to a simmer, then remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

Broil the Shrimp
Place prepared baking sheet with wire rack in oven.  Remove shrimp from the marinade.   Discard the marinade.  Arrange the shrimp on metal skewers.   Remove baking sheet from oven, arrange shrimp skewers on the wire rack and return to oven under the broiling element.  Cook until the shrimp are lightly browned (3-4 minutes), then use tongs to flip and broil the shrimp another 1-2 minutes. 

Assemble the Dish
Remove the shrimp from the skewers and stir into the sauce.   Stir in the remaining teaspoon garam masala and chopped cilantro, then serve.

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