In the Southern state of Kerala, whole spices form an integral part of the region's cuisine. This traditional shrimp or fish preparation is a window into the distinctive flavors of the region, known more for the aromatic nature of its spices than the actual heat they impart.
Coconut forms an integral part of the cuisine and is used liberally in this dish as well. The resulting amalgamation of naturally sweet coconut milk and fragrant whole spices gives this dish a unique but mild flavor that's decidedly different from the more robust dishes of the north.
You can choose to use a firm fleshed fish if you're not a big fan of shrimp—the taste is just as addictive. Moilee is best served with rice pancakes called Pappalam, but plain white rice and a healthy serving of poppadoms does the trick, too.
- 1 cup cleaned and deveined shrimp
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (divided)
- 1/2 tablespoon grated ginger (divided)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil/ vegetable oil
- 3 cloves
- 3 white cardamom pods
- 1 inch piece cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon grated garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 3 green chillies slit lengthwise
- 10 curry leaves
- 1 cup thin coconut milk
- Kosher salt
- 1 large tomato cut in thin rounds
- 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
- Cooked rice and poppodom for serving
Toss shrimp in a small bowl with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and ground red pepper. Let rest 15 minutes.
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat until shimmering. Add cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add remaining ginger, garlic, onion and chilli and stir until fragrant and onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add curry leaves and stand back as they splutter. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining turmeric powder to the oil, stir briskly, and immediately add the thin coconut milk and salt. Add tomato and allow to come to a gentle boil. Add the marinated shrimp and allow to cook just until opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the thick coconut milk and bring to a gentle boil, about 1 minute. Serve hot with white rice and poppadoms.
Heavy bottomed pan