Category Archives: Cardamom

Primal Prawns (or Cauliflower) in an Indian Coconut Sauce

I was leery about this recipe.  It seemed too simple to have any flavor.  I’m used to reading and preparing Indian recipes that have at least 12 different spices.  And typically, at least 2 of the ingredients are hard to find in our small Montana city that seems to have a hard time selling even the most basic of gourmet and especially ethnic ingredients.

I was pleasantly surprised.  I’ll be honest though, I almost stopped halfway through the prepping of the dish because I was not impressed with the then flavor of the coconut milk and minced onion/garlic/ginger paste.  But, I continued on thinking that I should give it a good try given that all of the prep was done and thus I had nothing to lose.  I even went so far as to think of possible other renditions with the end result.  Oh ye of little faith!

The subtle cinnamon, cloves and cardamom melded together perfectly with the coconut milk and gingery onion.  I think the absolute trick to this recipe is to give it time to let the flavors do their thing.  As with seemingly all Indian recipes, the dish improves even more after sitting overnight.  The sauce is perfect for the shrimp in that it’s quite flavorful but does not overwhelm the shrimp or cauliflower.  This will be one dish that will continually be on my rotation of Indian go-to’s.

I want to give great credit to Meena Pathak  for the great recipes in COMPLETE INDIAN COOKING.  This recipe is an adaptation of one of her recipes and a second recipe of hers that I’ve created a post around.

Pairs great with a mild Pinot Noir (I find most Indian goes great with Pinot Noirs).

PRIMAL PRAWNS (OR CAULIFLOWER) IN AN INDIAN COCONUT SAUCE

Serves 4 – 6

  • 12 oz chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1″ piece ginger, sliced
  • 2 lb large raw prawns; peeled, cleaned & deveined – or –
  • 1 head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets – or –
  • a  combination of shrimp & cauliflower
  • salt, to taste
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried bird’s eye chile
  • 2 oz Greek yogurt
  • 12 fl oz coconut milk or 4 oz coconut cream with 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup water

Place onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender and process to a FINE paste.

Smear the prawns or cauliflower with a little salt and half the turmeric.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and fry the prawns over a high heat until just golden brown.  Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves.  Reduce heat to medium high and stir spices for 2 minutes or just until they are aromatic and lightly brown.  Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion/garlic/ginger mixture to the pan.  Stir-fry for approximately 4 minutes.

Add the remaining turmeric and bird’s eye chile.  Sprinkle with a little water and stir well.  Add the yogurt and mix well.  Pour in the coconut milk/coconut cream & water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.  (At this point it is going to come down to preference of thickness.  It can be cooked longer for a thicker consistency if desired.)

Add prawns and cauliflower.  Cook for another 8 minutes for shrimp and 10 minutes for cauliflower (check for doneness of florets).

Indian Night after a Long, Dry Spell

I haven’t been making much Indian since going mostly Primal.  I think it has something to do with not having the rice and naan to go with the curries.  It’s not as though I’ve cut it out completely but it’s definitely not been in my diet as much as it was at one time.

I really enjoy making Indian.  I have accumulated a lot of the spices that are common in Indian and scoff at the “optional” entries in recipes because, 1) I have those ingredients and have a slight superiority complex come out, and 2) I can’t imagine the recipe without them because after having used them I feel like the recipe just wouldn’t be the same without them.  Curry leaves are one of those ingredients that I just can’t imagine going without when listed in a recipe.

I was going through my cookbooks this morning trying to find an Indian recipe for some goat stew meat that I had defrosted.  In addition to a crockpot recipe for the goat, I came across 2 other recipes that I had marked as wanting to try and had all of the spices on hand.  It was a great day to tinker in the kitchen given that we’ve been pretty much snowed in and it’s still too cold to go out and enjoy the outdoors.  At least in my opinion.

The two recipes are adaptations of Chicken in Cardamom Cream Sauce in “Complete Indian Cooking” by Meena Pathak to go with Sweet Potato Chaat in “American Masala” by Suvir Saran.  I felt that the sweet potato recipe would be a great accompaniment/primal substitute for basmati rice.  And I was right!  Both dishes are delish, pair well together and I didn’t even miss the rice.

One note on spices: if you can or have the time, I would recommend freshly grinding the coriander.  It’s an easy spice to grind, the little globes just simply crush in on themselves.  The difference between store bought and freshly ground coriander is significant.  And this can make your dish that much more stellar!

I prepped my Chaat root vegetables and started roasting them when I started the Chicken Cardamom recipe.

CHICKEN IN CARDAMOM CREAM SAUCE

Serves 4

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp freshly ground coriander
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 12 oz boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2″ to 1″ cubes
  • 200 ml cream
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp coconut sugar
  • salt

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom pods and bay leaves.  Turn heat to medium and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until they begin to crackle, approximately 10 minutes.

Add the ground coriander and canned tomatoes and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the diced chicken and fry, stirring continuously for 5 minutes.

Add the single cream, ground cardamom, fenugreek leaves and garam masala.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add coconut sugar and salt to taste.  Serve alongside Chaat Roasted Vegetables.

Chaat Spiced Roasted Vegetables

Serves 6

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  • 3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp roasted cumin seeds, ground
  • 2 Tbsp Chaat masala
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1 lime

Toast cumin seeds in a small cast iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat.  They are done when they are lightly brown and smell fragrant.  Let cool before grinding.

Prep the vegetables, adding others if you see fit.  Beets might be a good option.  Place vegetables in a large mixing bowl.

Mix the dry spices together in a small mixing bowl.

Drizzle olive oil over vegetables.  Stir vegetables so that they are evenly coated.  Sprinkle some of the spice mixture over vegetables.  Turn vegetables to spread the seasoning evenly on the vegetables.  Do not feel that you have to use all of the spice, I kept some back to use for later.

Line a sheet pan with tin foil or parchment paper.  Spread your vegetables evenly over the sheet pan.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Stir vegetables and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and lightly brown.  Remove from the oven and squeeze 1/2 to 1 full lime over the vegetables depending on your flavor preference.