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Dinner Tonight: Mussels in Goan Sauce (Thisri)

[Photographs: Nick Kindelsperger]

Sometimes I crave simple mussels preparations like this one, where all you need is a hot iron skillet, a few cracks of a black pepper, and salt. But just as often I crave something complex and fiery, like this incredible recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail. To be sure, this is no tame dinner. Between the seven cloves of garlic, the wallop of cayenne pepper and paprika, and the earthiness of cumin, coriander, and tamarind paste, this ended up being one of the most flavorful bowls of mussels I've ever encountered.

What's astonishing is that nothing here reaches too far. It's not too heavy, too aggressive, or too spicy. That's probably due to the coconut milk, which helps balance all the elements. The hardest ingredient to track down is probably the tamarind paste. If you can't find it, lemon juice will help lend a little of the bracing acidity, but it'll miss the complex bitterness. Fortunately, this recipe has flavor to spare.

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