I certainly don't remember umami on my elementary school charts next to sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. It seems like it's only been within the past decade that this fifth flavor has been widely discussed. Maybe that's because the taste receptors for this flavor were discovered in 2000. Sometimes when I'm eating curry, I imagine that one day scientists are going to discover curry receptors, and the world will finally have empirical evidence as to its deliciousness. Nothing tastes like curry, and nothing else will satisfy me when the craving hits.
For that reason, I'm a sucker for curry recipes that are deep and flavorful but also quick to make. Such is the case with this recipe from Martha Stewart Living for Tikka Masala—the curry which many newcomers tend to like—more of an Anglicized curry than something authentically Indian. No matter: This recipe turns out a pungent, rich sauce in no time flat, silkily enveloping plump shrimp (easier to cook than chicken) and coating a bed of rice.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, January 2010.
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil or clarified butter (ghee)
- 1 large onion
- 3 tablespoons grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup water
- 20 medium-to-large shrimp
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cooked rice for serving
In a heavy pot such as a dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently until golden, about 20 minutes, then add the ginger, garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, and garam masala. Add a little oil if necessary to allow the ingredients to blend into a thick-yet-runny consistency, and cook until the flavors have begun to marry and are very fragrant, 3-4 minutes.
Add the water and stir until the mixture is smooth, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp and cook gently over medium heat until they are just cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt quickly. Serve immediately with rice.